As a rule of thumb, I try to avoid EPs. I’m not sure why, because we’ve had some really good ones recently, but something about the brevity of the music makes me wary. It takes a lot for an EP to stand out for me (see Tossing Copper or Bear’s Den). So, to say that this self-titled EP by Pandas & People is at the top of my “awesome music I found this year” list (it’s a metaphorical list) is saying something. This 3 piece folk outfit from Colorado is making some incredible music and has put out 5 stellar tracks on this little EP.
It’s clear from the first banjo chord what kind of music we are in for. “Howling Moon” kicks off this EP with a slowly building love song that is catchy and will be perfect for you when your local weather finally turns to windows down driving weather. This song has harmonies, banjos, pianos, bright guitars, claps, and everything else you could want to hook you to their sound. “Tonight, the moon is howling at us.” From there, it’s on to “On My Way”, which sounds somewhat like a Mumford and Sons B-side. It’s a different voice, but the banjo sound and the upbeat nature of the song betray their influences. Lyrically, it’s also easy to spot the oft-spouted folk sentiment as well: “I’ll be a good man someday,/ if it’s all I can be.” This first single is in the vein of, and wouldn’t surprised me if it became the next, “Ho Hey” by the Lumineers. It’s the upbeat, vocally driven folk/pop sound that everyone likes.
A little more rhythmic and featuring a little more female vocals is “My Oh My”, a love song to be sure and one that perfectly captures the feeling of young love and the desire to dive in head first. Megan Huffman shines in this with her heartfelt vocals that feel like exactly the right thing to keep this from sounding too similar to the others. Perhaps my favorite track on the EP is “Still Young”. This is a folk party song, unabashedly quick tempoed and the kind of song that seeks to encapsulate the feelings of all of us twenty somethings. “Because tonight, the moon shines on us,/ Don’t fear the fall, it’s me you can trust./ Oh Oh, let’s just fall in love, while we’re still young.” This might be the quintessential summer song.
Pulling strongly from Mumford and Sons and The Lumineers, Pandas & People have crafted an EP that has the character and depth of a full length album, but plays like a no filler, all excitement live show. Lyrically, musically, vocally, tonally, everything about the EP shines from start to finish. When they release an LP, you better believe it’ll be covered here. We’re eagerly awaiting its arrival.