His first solo album in six years is comfortable, accomplished and at times even gleeful in its kitchen-sink approach to sound design
A central part of Gold Panda’s appeal has always been the sweet, homely feeling he brings to songs: the samples are chopped for maximum emotional heft, and while the instrumentation is sometimes exotic the performances are sentimental. His first solo album in six years, The Work is a comfortable record, accomplished and at times even gleeful in its kitchen-sink approach to sound design.
The Corner is one of the album’s most ear-catching songs, with an intro that resembles soulful drill and an enjoyably shambling vocal loop (“‘cause more often than not I’m down here on the corner”). The beat bumps just like it should, the chord sequence conveys a poignant stasis, and the whole arrangement threatens to topple over with the weight of its elements by the end.
Elsewhere I Spiral repeats the maximalist aesthetic and evokes Oval being given the trap remix we never knew they needed, while penultimate track Chrome ups the IDM factor with the record’s glitchiest rhythms and burbling, erratic sine tones.
Fun though these tracks are, another highlight comes with Plastic Future which provides an interesting contrast. Shimmying hi-hats adorn free-flowing plucks and a syncopated, resonant bassline, and this surprisingly minimal soundscape continues until around the four-minute mark, when fizzy chords are added. More simplicity comes with Joni’s Room, as the synth chords ring out in isolation and the percussion never amounts to more than throbs and clicks, and this helps The Work maintain a sense of balance.
Fans of French house or Todd Edwards would do well to check out I’ve Felt Better (Than I Do Now), a swinging house track that positively levitates with the energy of its cut-up sample, breaking down with some signature plucking before kicking off again – like several moments on Gold Panda’s fourth album it makes the joy of creation deeply vicarious, which is a precious thing indeed.