Long-time favourites of Spectral Nights, Guildford three-piece Dragons that Make Love to Pandas finally release their new EP ‘Roundabouts’ via Bandcamp. With a CD available for just £2.50, the five tracks find the trio making huge strides forward and fulfilling the potential their early releases showed. Recorded at Opus Studios by Thom Ashworth from Our Lost Infantry, the songs also sound fuller, capturing a bit more of DTMLTP’s expressive live sound.
‘There’s a ghost in my closet’ is an opening line that jumps out at you and perfectly introduces the newfound confidence of Dragons that Make Love to Pandas on the EP’s first track, ‘Niall Goes to Bosnia’. A mixture of youthful exuberance, early Los Campesinos!-style angst and the poppier delicacies of US emo bands that featured Mike Kinsella, the song is full of exciting twists and turns, especially in the second half when Sam Lewis’ tricky guitar lines align in style with the mesmerising drums. ‘Ripping Skug’ surrounds talk of four-leafed clovers with riffs that could have come straight from the Cribs’ early career. The way it slowly builds momentum also recalls bands like Pavement and their slacker-pop attitude.
A tale of repeatedly missing someone even though they are ‘so fucking clueless’, ‘Wasps’ is an anthem for today’s jilted emo generation. Complete with group harmonies and positive-sounding guitar work, there is more urgency and aggression as, in unison, the band sing ‘This is our last goodbye to honour your face’. With talk of reminiscing on old times and a brilliantly realised breakdown, the song is surprisingly powerful too. The heartbreak continues on the progressive ‘Hibernation’, which recalls some of Johnny Foreigner’s more subtle moments with its shout of ‘summer’ at the start and then the repeated chants of the title. It also has one of the EP’s standout lyrics: ‘Let’s go out and enjoy the sunshine, let’s watch South Park all night’. The closing ‘More or Less’ finds the band really let loose with huge-sounding riffs combining with a recording of Terence McKenna’s famous quote about how ‘We have to create culture’.
Wide ranging and expansive, ‘Roundabouts’ is the result of a band not only fulfilling their early potential and promise, but having a lot of fun doing it– and you’ll be smiling throughout the running time too.