Published May 25, 2016All Gold Panda albums have started with something simple: an image or a theme that the album can be built around. In the case of his latest record, it began with the parting words of a Japanese cab driver, who said "Good luck and do your best" as Gold Panda was exiting the car at Hiroshima. It's a phrase that stuck so firmly that he felt the need to extrapolate on it musically, embodying its upbeat message as much as possible.
Not many would attempt to base an entire LP on the broken English goodbye of a never-to-be-seen-again taxi driver, but as far as musically encapsulating the phrase's positivity goes, Gold Panda has pretty much nailed it. There's barely a blip on Good Luck and Do Your Best that couldn't be described as downright pleasant. From the sweet combo of keys and vocals (something Gold Panda pulls off well every time) on opener "Metal Bird," to the jazzy chicanery of closing track "Your Good Times are Just Beginning," you're constantly flooded with wave after wave of warm tones.
The only dark corner on the album is "Song for a Dead Friend," a track dedicated to Phil Wells, better known as DJ Sueme of legendary techno group Subhead, who passed away in 2007. Though Gold Panda admits that it's not necessarily something Wells would've recorded himself, it features that undeniably satisfying synth quiver that's so prominent throughout early Warp Records releases, a sound both producers bonded over in the past.
GLADYB doesn't really deviate from the path that was laid down by previous albums Lucky Shiner and Half of Where You Live, but — perhaps even more impressively — it stays decidedly on it, rounding out a beautiful trilogy of semi-danceable, definitely nod-able records. It may even be his best.
Gold Panda has hinted that, because GLADYB wraps his records into a neat little triptych, it might be time to change gear, but considering his particularly consistent output, his next release seems poised to impress, regardless of any stylistic changes. (City Slang)