together PANGEA – “Badillac”

(Photo Credit: stereogum)

Grade: B+

Key Tracks: “Offer” “Depress”

together PANGEA’s previous full-length, “Living Dummy,” released when the band was still known simply as PANGEA, is an album I’ve listened to more times than I can count. It’s cohesive, fun, loud, silly and has low-key production – everything you want from a garage rock album. And every song is unique enough to make a perfect listen. On “Badillac,” the band – with a new name and on a new label – aim to diversify their music, while keeping a cohesiveness. “Badillac” isn’t as good as “Living Dummy,” but it still hits that goal.

The first song on “Badillac,” called “Alive,” sounds ripped out of rock radio instead of a California garage. It’s almost a mission statement – that the band is branching out and expanding their sound. The production is upped, although the vocals are still beautifully unintelligible sometimes. The songs are, at times, louder than ever before, or softer. More acoustic elements are incorporated, as is straight rock songwriting. The band explores their own sound, ending with a collection of songs that are more diverse, while still cohesive. The songs on “Badillac” don’t feel as related as they did on “Living Dummy,” but they don’t try to. The band set out to make more well-rounded songs, and they’ve done just that.

From a lyrical standpoint, “Badillac” is not as strong as “Living Dummy.” I’ll never forget the latter half of the first verse of “Make Me Feel Weeeird”: “Let’s talk about you now / What kind of guy is he? / You say he hates fags / Well I think he’d like me / Get bent / Get bent.” I’ve always loved the bluntness of the verse, but the lyrics are vaguer this time around. Simpler song titles – “Why,” “Alive,” “River,” “Offer” – symbolize this. The songs on “Badillac” are not as instantly memorable as before because of it. Not entirely, of course. “Badillac,” “Offer” and “Cat Man” still grab pretty quickly. But the album’s one major disappointment is the move towards more conventional lyrics.

Still, “Badillac” is a great release and will hopefully propel the band onto a bigger stage. It’s fun and it’s easy to revisit many times – all of their music is. together PANGEA are making their own thing out of garage rock, going beyond all limitations without losing the spirit. They’ve made a new identity and sound, while still resembling the old PANGEA. Hopefully they’ll keep the trend up – this could be their year.

-By Andrew McNally

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One thought on “together PANGEA – “Badillac”

  1. Pingback: Parquet Courts – “Sunbathing Animal” | Post-Grad Music Reviews

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