One has to wonder about the name of the Austin, Texas band, Moving Panoramas. Does the word “moving” refer to motion?
Or, is it moving panoramas, as in emotionally stirring?
Fortunately, Moving Panorama’s dreamy brand of indie rock lends credence to both readings, often within the same song. Their debut record, In Two, is comprised of ten refreshing tracks that are almost all vividly drawn and performed as well as evocative.
The record opens open up with a pure-eyed, somnolent gem, “Baby Blues,” that is sexy and rollickingly charismatic, followed up with “Dance Floor,” which is as satisfying as it is lyrically vapid. The album really starts to find its groove, though, on “Home Alone,” its third track where the echoing, opening jangle feels like “Jessie’s Girl,” stirring up that just-right bit of 80s nostalgia that does not disappoint, as the track builds off that line into a heartening guitar groove backed with a gently soaring synthesizer.
Placing Moving Panoramas in the scope of contemporary dream rock is a fun exercise. They’re not exactly droopy like those nihilistic urbanites in the Chromatics, and they don’t draw as heavily on power-backed girl pop as Alvvays. What I like about Moving Panoramas is that they seem to have made the choice to be an accessible band, one with an immediately familiar and invigorating feeling throughout.
Holding all of this together is the band’s use of vocal performances. At times, the lyrics and singing are what stirs the track together, like on “On Hold,” where the raw and plaintive calls tend toward an anthemic feeling. On others, they’re more subdued, singing blending into the instrumental, like on “What Now” and “ADD Heart,” which is a blown-out, rock stomper with soothing edge.
Only a few times on In Two did the band broaden their scope to the point where it hurt. I thought that “Forever Gone” was a bit predictably in its use of country pedal steel guitars, but there is, I suppose, room for that experiment on the record. While “Whiskey Fight” loses a bit for its cliché look at domestic conflict, the performance is outstanding. These tracks didn’t exactly work for me, but I kept coming back to them as songs that surely someone in the crowd is going to adore.