Emerging from the very soul of the shoegaze genre, Tāmaki Makaurau trio Silk Cut, have released a second EP titled (or at least referred to as) ‘Panda’, a sequel to their 2020 lockdown brainchild, ‘Astronaut’.
Consisting of a five quite lengthy tracks, ‘Panda’ is the more uptempo yet moody sister of ‘Astronaut’. An intermingling of genres is what contemporary musicians excel at, and Silk Cut is no exception. The reverberating guitar, the consistent background synth, and rock’n’roll type drums carve out a landscape of ’70s and ’80s synth-pop but with a modern ethereal, and dreamy twist.
Written during the initial Covid-19 lockdown during the months of March and April, singer and songwriter Andrew Thorne (whose guitar wizardry can be heard in Bic Runga’s platinum album ‘Drive’) encapsulates the nostalgia that ran rampant amongst New Zealanders during their time isolated at home. Alongside Thorne are Aidan Phillips on bass and Mike Burrows playing drums, all three adding to the vocals.
The first three tracks Run (Steal Away), Build a Fire, and Lighthouse utilise shoegaze’s distinguishable guitar reverb and wispy vocals which create a sense of longing, perhaps of a better, happier time. However, this sentiment is challenged by the following more ominous and moodier tracks, The Walk of a Dead Man and Wish You Were Lovely, which employ heavy use of the synth and have a self-proclaimed “film-noir storyline” that pushes and pulls like the suspense of a Hitchcock film.
These are reminiscent of the early electro pop sounds of the ’80s, songs by The Human League and Ultravox, or, the Stranger Things intro for the Gen Z listeners. With only a few concise verses per song, Silk Cut, with the help of Olly Harmer at The Lab, showcase their considerable musical prowess through the effortless production of the EP, using mostly vocal melodies and airy instrumentals to create a full rounded narrative that’s drenched in melancholy. Through the provocation of 80’s synth-pop nostalgia, ‘Panda’ presents a cinematic experience for the ears alone.