Panda Transport – Monorail

Panda Transport - Monorail

Panda Transport - Monorail

Monorail troubles me. It’s a bad album, probably because both the audience and the artists lack definition. The band itself confesses an inauspicious origin: Two people from different countries with different musical backgrounds and interests meet online and decide to make a record. Yes, maybe that could make for a great story someday, but that’s because the odds of it working are so unlikely. The result of such a chance effort has no vision.

The effort belongs to electro-pop outfit Panda Transport. Their new album, Monorail, shares nothing with the genre’s current leadership–Lady Gaga or Ladytron, for example. Next to those, Monorail sounds embarrassingly out-of-touch. Panda Transport is more organic, and decidedly less intense. Their sound and lyrics are remedial, therapeutic. At best it’s Top 40 radio, the commute soundtrack of a battle-weary divorcĂ©e who can’t find any good music to listen to just this minute.

On the plus side, title track “Monorail”, like the rest of the album, boasts stellar production. The smooth sound has real presence but is, in fact, the album’s only quality. The music is marked by a professional’s patchwork flow of samples and instruments.

Track two, “Saint’s Revel”, mixes acoustic guitar with vocalist Kathy Compton’s meek studio voice well enough, but the chorus line, “Don’t underestimate my soul”, oozes a lackey’s transcendentalism. The chorus of “Up the Disco” fares better, but the song is ruined by a spoken word passage.

It just gets worse from there, the low point being “Cicadas in Stereo”. Here, Thierry Holweck, presumably, takes over at vocal duties, and he so thoroughly annihilates the song that you can’t help but hope he was joking.

Praise God, it ends one song after that.