Vancouver-via-Edmonton indie rockers Hot Panda have always had a knack for making bouncy, hooky pop with a jerky, off-kilter edge and a slight smirk. On their third album, the first after a couple of lineup changes, they play things straighter, abandoning some (but only some) of their levity for lyrics that address economic failure and global conflict.
That could've been a damaging move for such a lighthearted band, but for the most part the newfound earnestness is balanced by quirky arrangements and Chris Connelly's unpolished yelp reminiscent of Destroyer's Dan Bejar. (Destroyer producers John Collins and David Carswell act as co-producers).
Connelly's coarseness, for instance, lends album opener One In The Head, One In The Chest a sinister undercurrent, fitting for a song about "with us or against us" extremism.
Top track: One In The Head, One In The Chest