P:ano – ‘Clapping Hands’
‘Clapping Hands’ is the perfect example of what indie-pop is capable of. It’s the sort of infuriatingly catchy but criminally overlooked gem that most open-minded people would find difficult to resist. Condensed into just over two minutes, every single ingredient of its simple but sugary charm is perfectly placed: the swaying vocal harmonies, the horn stabs, the brief descent of the wind organ, the sing-along chorus, the swinging tambourines, the clicking fingers and the, well, clapping hands. This kind of precision virtually guarantees immediate effect and is the stuff songwriters dream of.
So when I learned that No Kids represents a side-project for three-quarters of P:ano’s members, naturally I was keen to give their new album Come Into My House a listen. That’s not to say I was expecting the same sort of thing, exactly – otherwise what would be the point of a side-project? But while ‘For Halloween’ is one of the better tracks on the album, my impressions of it as a whole have been somewhat disappointing. The experimental playfulness of songs such as ‘Old Iron Gate’ is a far cry from the pin-point accuracy of ‘Clapping Hands” fully-formed hooks. Here, the melodies seem sprawling and directionless, giving the songs a rather improvisational feel that suggests this is a set of musicians plagued with a touch of attention-deficit disorder. Though Come Into My House is certainly full of colour, its lack of focus brings to mind the silly twee that Architecture in Helsinki were heavily criticised for on their last outing, Places Like This.
Nevertheless, at the end of the day this is still a side-project (one of many to splinter from P:ano) and the purpose for Nick Krgovich and co. may well be to explore new territory and to see what works. There is still plenty to like here, however – it just feels like a bit of an artistic stab in the dark…but if it attracts new admirers towards the work of P:ano, then who can argue?