Pan - These Are Things I Love And I Want to Share Them With You
Record Label: Post-Echo
Release Date: Aug. 28, 2012
This is how it should always be.
On their debut fell-length, South Carolina post-rockers Pan deliver an album that is equal parts arresting, intoxicating and transcendent. Though comparing a post-rock band to Explosions in the Sky is a bit redundant, that is honestly the musical direction these Palmetto boys achieve on this cohesive and air-tight collection. While the sound is not exactly a carbon copy of Explosions, the music definitely takes that buoyant and lifting concept and expands on it, resulting in an album that is arguably one of the year's greatest surprises.
The disc's lead single "John from New York," is actually an anomaly: that is, there are actual vocals being sung by guitarist Ian Flegas. The vocals are low and muted and never take center stage, but they can be heard and they do add a layer of sonic delight to an already engaging and arresting composition. But "John from New York," is not the album's best track by any stretch. That actually belongs to penultimate cut "Leave Your Body," a 6-minute epic that crackles and blisters, never once relenting.
The song begins tame and innocent, with just a rambling guitar that swims its way through a barren and ordinary landscape. The song is pleasant, amiable and undeniably warm. But then things really take off. At the 2:30 mark, the song gradually starts lifting skyward, and second by second, it goes further and further upward. And as the song lifts, the guitars sear, grasping and clawing, until rather suddenly it stops and ends. The proverbial balloon has been deflated.
One of the true charms of Pan is that unlike many post-rock outfits the group doesn't employ songs that linger long past the 4-minute mark. In fact, with the exception of "Leave Your Body," much of These are Things is brief and concise. Album closer "Arkansas," another Explosions in the Sky-esque cut closes out just shy of 4-minute mark, as does standout track "The Rhode Island Lucky Few," itself a more concussive and harder-hitting effort than anything else on the disc. But even "Rhode Island," employs a pensive and cerebral middle half that attempts to scale back on the clattering of guitars. But then just as easily as they were taken away, they re-emerge, skittering towards the final seconds.
Other memorable cuts include the acoustic "The Things They Can't Take Away," an autumnal cut that demonstrates the band's affinity and penchant for diversity and minimalism. In many ways, "These Things," is one of the album's apex moments, as it does so much by doing so little. Theres an army of emotions and sensory details that can be gleaned from the song's simple movement and that it is as memorable and tremendous as it is, is only a testament to just how talented Pan truly is.
In many ways, These Are Things is a bellwether.
Post-rock nee instrumental music is best for its ability to soar to histrionic heights and leave the listener inspired, encouraged and assuaged. These Are Things I Love and I Want to Share Them With You does exactly that and then some. On their 2011 debut EP, the quartet jokingly titled the album Post Rock is Not Dead, and that's a statement that can emphatically be uttered when listening to this album. While it may be presumptuous to suggest, there's a pretty good chance that Pan are on the precipice of something truly extraordinary. These Are Things I Love is proof of that. Just give it a listen. You'll see.