ALBUM REVIEW: Step-Panther – Strange But Nice

Rating7step-panther_strange_but_nice_0914Step-Panther’s debut self-titled album was a mixed bag that pegged them as a band still finding their feet and throwing paint to see what might stick. Three years on, they’ve evolved from a short attention span garage-rock band with too many ideas to a ‘90s alternative rock-flavoured trio with plenty of good ideas and the ability to shape and execute them.

Frontman Stephen Bourke has honed his songwriting and learnt what to leave out of a song. His lyrics, singing and guitar playing all benefit here from an economical approach. From the Weller-esque ringing chords in ‘Candy In The Sky’ to the Tony Iommi metallic riffing on ‘User Friendly’, there’s a central figure to nearly every song that gives it a definable sound. That’s not to say they’ve lost their sense of fun and musical adventure. Songs still take sharp turns without indicating but the changes feel right and fit perfectly.

Taken as a whole Strange But Nice is Step-Panther taking you on a guided tour of their (or at least Bourke’s) world of music where a sci-fi Weezer collides with The Bats and Sonic Youth remixes The Clean (‘Something Must Be Done’). At its best the album contains absolute gems like ‘Parallel’, possibly the finest song they’ve written with its cascading guitar riff and bittersweet melancholic chorus or ‘Zombie Summer’s’ back half that circles repeatedly on itself. A couple of songs pull the album’s batting average down but overall Step-Panther have taken a great leap forward on their second full-length.

Chris Familton

this review was first published in The Music (Sept ’14)

 

NEW MUSIC: Step-Panther | Nowhere

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They’ve been quiet on the live front for the last while but Step-Panther have been busy recording their new album with Big Scary’s Tom Iansek. The album Strange But Nice is due out in August via HUB/Inertia and here’s the video for its first single, ‘Nowhere’. Shades of Sonic Youth and 3Ds permeate the song before a hypnotic wave of tumbling guitar notes wash over the song and chugging distorted chords bring it all home. It’s a more refined sound for Step-Panther, definitely a very cool ‘next step’ kind of change for the trio that bodes well for the new record.