|Recently, I was caught off guard by an album with a title too long to remember. Her Space Holiday’s XOXO, Panda And The New Kid Revival is the album I’m talking about and let me tell you this: this album will sweep you off your feet. I’ve been sitting on the album for about a week now and if not listening all the way through each time I cross it, I’ve been more than able to fall in love with many individual tracks and get swept up in hitting repeat again and again. This isn’t the kind of album with cutesy songs with indie pop vibes that become annoying all too soon. No, this is an album full of whimsy and heart that leaves you swept up in tales of love, life, and growing up. I didn’t know what to expect going into this disc, but I came out a huge fan and I’m sure you will as well.|
“The New Kid Revival,” the opening track which begins with some slowly crescendoing guitar work, will surely be a hit with any indie pop fan. The song has the feel good vibes of The Shins, but with the simplicity of Bright Eyes [If Conor had a more positive outlook on life]. The music feels loose and free to expand and shrink on a moments notice and that’s what really seals it as something you have to really dig into. If you don’t allow yourself to become enthralled with the tones laced throughout the track, you’re likely to miss out on some of the finest songwriting of the year. Everything is simple, but it makes for a great pop song and that’s really what matters in the end. This leads to the children’s toy sounding intro of, “The Truth Hurts, So This Should Be Pointless,” which once again begins on a very subtle note before expanding into a pulsing song. You know those arthouse films about misguided twenty somethings that set out to find themselves? This is the kind of track that would play during the travel montage. IT feels like it’s been around for years, but you know it’s fresh from the studio. The percussion, in my opinion, seal the track due to great cymbal rolls and additional percussion work. “The Heartbreak Moment,” feels like Simon and Garfunkel were funneled into an ex-hardcore guy with the fresh hint of broken heart and a six string. Once again, things are kept simple, but it just grooves into your bloodstream and syncs up to your heartbeat. This may be my favorite track on the whole album. This then leads fittingly into, “The Year In Review.” You become transfixed with this track due to the way the guitars and vocals work together to create a great mood and the lyrics are just so honest and easy to relate to. I mean, this isn’t music for the masses, but it should be. The call outs for you to shout out your joy and raise your voice are ones you want to heed in order to share your excitement for the adventure we find ourselves on only 4 tracks in, but you’ll only be singing to yourself. However, I dare to resist still doing so.
There’s a 60’s pop rock feel to, “No More Good Ideas,” that seems a bit off kilter for this album considering what has just passed, but it works because everything just seems to flow too good to deny. Although, it’s not a track I’d really make to much of a fuss about. I wouldn’t be too surprised if, “The Boys and Girls,” appeared on an upcoming episode of Scrubs as it seems to just sound like the kind of song Zach Braff would use in a transition. IT returns to the traveling sound that we heard a bit earlier on, but with a bit more folk influence than before. The use of a real alarm clock sound near the end really takes the authenticity to an all new level and continues the albums organic feel quite well. Couples are bound to fall in love with the feel good vibe of, “Sleepy Tigers,” and shoegazer pop fans will want to marry, “The World Will Deem Us Dangerous.” I don’t mean to gush throughout the disc, but with 6 tracks to go, this is easily becoming the best feel good album of the year and it seems to all have been done with such ease that it should enrage other musicians. There’s always this fine, unspoken line between simple and genius and Her Space Holiday walks it like a trapeze artist.
Kevin Devine may even be jealous of the beauty of, “My Crooked Crown,” an acoustic lead track that tugs at event he coldest heart strings. I feel this is the kind of song that ends summer and welcomes fall as love begins to change into a real relationship or dissipates. I don’t know what to say, but that it is gorgeous. “Four Tapping Shoes and A Kiss,” however, just fails to hit the mark for me. The simplicity kind of catches up here and the music just doesn’t feel too great. The repetitive beat comes to a head here and though the number of layers of sounds increases, the vibe just can’t get off the ground. Almost as if HSH knew I was thinking about repetitiveness, we get a new sound with, “The Telescope,” which is synth lead and glorious. The song itself is pretty okay lyrically and all, but the new music take that mixes new wave and western styles is just irresistible to your ears.
This then leads us into the final three tracks of the album, which kick off amazingly with, “Two Tin Cans and A Length of String.” This song comes out of nowhere sound wise and the lyrics jump out of the dull intro tones and as the music crashes in, you’re still transfixed on the multiple vocal layers leading the track. I wouldn’t mind if all the music was gone and we just had the vocals, it’s that great. Though, part of the charm of the album is how Her Space Holiday can make something so simple sound gorgeous and deep and that is accomplished ten fold as this song plays out. The layers build, but the basic beat is kept and it still sounds like so much more than it is. “The Day In Review,” is a cutesy, relaxed number, but outstays its welcome by about a minute. Whenever an artist has a song that’s very simple musically, like this one, it’s hard to keep things going for a full track and I think that’s what went wrong here because it seems like it should be great, but it never goes anywhere really. Luckily, the albums ends beautifully with, “One For My Soul [Good Night].” The song plays like a closing song should, in fact, it would fit no place else on the album than at the end as the whole thing seems intent on wrapping up everything we’ve heard. The instrumentation is dead on and you’ll be wanting to sing along before the first verse ends. It’s a triumphant end to a wonderful record.
I’ve never known Her Space Holiday before this record, but now I feel like I’ve been missing out on something very, very important in the music world. We at UTG always strive to share music that is real, pure, and full of heart. XOXO, Panda and The New Kid Revival is a roller coaster of gorgeous tones and wonderful melodies. I’ve not heard anything like it all year and it’s easily the best feel good album in a long time. I know, with a name like this one carries, it’s hard to believe it’s anything too stunning, but trust me, you’ll be saying, “Wow,” long before it ends. Let me put it this way: If you don’t buy the new Her Space Holiday Album, you will be missing out on one of the best records put out all year. - Under The Gun