Review: Gold Panda – ‘Good Luck and Do Your Best’

It’s been three years since Gold Panda’s universally acclaimed and endlessly alluring ‘Half of Where You Live’ came out. The 2013 album was a globe-trotting adventure in which the British producer took us on an epic odyssey from Brazil to the Japanese island of Enoshima, from Hong Kong to the East Yorkshire village of Flinton – all through the distinct musical prism of his then residence in Berlin.

Now Gold Panda, or Derwin Panda as is his preferred moniker, is back with a new full- length release, once again boasting the flavour of faraway lands. Taking the spotlight this time is one land in particular, Japan, which Derwin visited twice in 2014 with photographer Laura Lewis on a quest to capture the sights and sounds of the country.

Good Luck and Do Your Best is inspired by an almost movie-like line, said by a cab driver in Hiroshima: ‘As we got out, the Japanese taxi driver’s parting words to us as we left, were ‘good luck and do your best’. And so this charming episode sets the tone for the whole album – ‘quite motivational, quite positive’, according to Derwin himself.

Gold Panda’s ability to transform his travels and experiences into intimate affairs once again shines through here. The album’s sound is lush yet concise, cinematic yet subtle, undoubtedly new yet somehow familiar and comforting.

Maybe it’s the homely feeling of Chelmsford, Essex, where Derwin recorded the album, that left a cosy mark on ‘Good Luck and Do Your Best’, leaving Japan’s unmistakeable Eastern glow to take centre stage throughout the 11 tracks but somehow effortlessly bringing them home.

It seems only fitting that the album’s first two videos were for ‘Time Eater’ and ‘In My Car’. The former is a visual collage of footage from New York, Berlin, Cologne, Hong Kong and Las Vegas while the latter is a sweet depiction of a day in the life of Gold Panda and his grandma. The third video to come out from the album, for the track ‘Pink & Green’, features footage from the fateful trips to Japan.

It feels almost wrong if not impossible to talk about singular tracks from Good Luck and Do Your Best as the album is so complete, so together, that breaking it apart just wouldn’t do. To say that ‘Chiba Nights’ is sure to make you want to dance or that ‘I Am Real Punk’ is bound to make you sit back and reflect on something – anything – is besides the point.Good Luck and Do Your Best is one of those rare gems in electronic music, an album that doesn’t seem concerned with ‘stand-out’ tunes surrounded by other not-so- stand-out-but-will-do music. On the contrary, it’s an album comprised of tracks that all leave an impression individually but that you always end up listening to in sequence because the full experience makes you feel even better than the sum of its parts.

In the movie version, the Japanese cab driver’s words would’ve been a storytelling device to foreshadow the ending. Because Gold Panda truly did his best on this utterly stunning new album.

By Raya Raycheva