Pang Attack knows how to create atmospheric music. The previous EPs from Alex Hackett (guitar, voice), Yann Geoffroy (drums), and David Clark (bass, keys) – Dreamer’s Drug and Phantom Forest – overflow with fuzz, swirls, reverb and all of those other choice words used when describing experimental, ambient, or drone music. In Sleepy Fell Down, Hackett and co. part slightly with their musical wanderings, creating more pointed pieces that ultimately make up the strongest Pang Attack offering yet.
According to Hackett, the EP acts as an introduction to Pang Attack’s first full-length record – one that will be much more poppy. The band’s pop tendencies have always lingered in the back of their past work – “Lazybones” and “Northern Seas (for Vanesa)” are standout examples – but as of right now Sleepy Fell Down is the band at their poppiest.
The sonorous “Bow Down, Frailty” is the clearest example of this more accessible pop sound. The sparse guitar plucking scattered throughout brings with it an Andrew Bird vibe while Hackett’s voice is, for the majority of the song, clear and powerful. In the middle of the song, a distorted guitar centred instrumental interlude takes the song to the dark place the lyrics cater to.
The relaxed pace of “Cure of the Bird-Women” helps make it another very friendly number. Certainly a bizarre thing to say as Hackett juxtaposes the music – almost a surf-rock vibe complete with bright ooo’s and ahh’s – with lyrics like “we’ll start to grow/Step out from shaded war-zones/Constantly cold/Cloaked in the shaded war zones.” It’s these types of thoughtful blends of sounds and words that Pang Attack do so well.
For fans the soundscapes of Pang Attack’s past, fear not, Sleepy Fell Down has plenty of that too. “The Jaguar” is the band up to their old tricks. A thick sludge of reverb drowns out a barely audible Hackett while the constant groovy drum beat and psychedelic outbursts make the song somehow shine. The hazy synth as heard in “Sylph” is another instrument that Pang Attack has been able to wield successfully in the past and continues to do so.
In the most vivid track of the EP, the closer “Gulag” feels as if cold waves are crashing over your head. A page taken from Sigur Rós/Jónsi Birgisson’s book of blooming sounds, “Gulag” beings with an acoustic guitar and skittery electronic elements before the rest of Pang Attack’s soundscape folds over you. The music itself is pensive and eerie at times but with lines like “Hey, you’re alone now/there is no hope/There never was, nor will there be” “Gulag” is a chilling thing of beauty.
Top Tracks: “Bow Down, Frailty,” “Gulag”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)