Her Space Holiday

XOXO, Panda and the New Kid Revival

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A short time after the release of two rather experimental EPs (Let's Get Quiet, Vols. 1 & 2), bedroom knob twiddler Marc Bianchi returned with a decidedly less clinical Her Space Holiday outing, 2008's XOXO, Panda and the New Kid Revival. Here we find the man taking a turn from the insular, pastoral, electronic-based template of some 15-plus prior releases to a more organic, immediate, and rough-around-the-edges approach. The synth-pads, dreamy string atmospherics, and meticulous sonic perfectionism that normally mark a Her Space Holiday outing have been largely replaced with semi-in-tune guitars, loose percussion, shaky banjo and visceral vocal takes. Without the polish on, Bianchi actually does pretty well -- serving this upbeat (both musically and emotionally) collection with a more freewheeling hand and less neurotic attention to detail. The result makes for a fun experience in the headphones -- no doubt helped by the sense of fun conveyed by the performers through the recording process itself. It sounds like they enjoyed themselves. It sounds spontaneous, and it sounds (save for Bianchi's one-trick vocal range) not much like what you'd expect a late-stage Her Space Holiday album to sound like. Marc Bianchi has, at least for now, chucked his dour Stephin Merritt leanings and adopted a more Nick Lowe-like free-spirited confidence (check "The Heartbreak Moment" for a good example of this) and the whole thing sounds, if not exactly cathartic, at least liberating.

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