Corny as it may sound, I find listening to an album is similar to opening a gift. There’s a tantalizing mystery to the unknown, as well as an unshakable optimism surrounding the thrill of discovery. What could be inside this mysterious gift? Maybe it’s a video game, a computer, or a puppy and, hopefully, some air holes.
But for every good gift, there’s a dud, and listening to Betty Moon’s Pantomania is like opening a gift only to find another box within, containing a series of progressively smaller boxes culminating in a broken paperclip and a crumpled napkin stained with spaghetti sauce. Everything comes together to be less than the sum of its parts, as the album is bogged down by poorly-assembled songs and amateurish production.
Pantomania’s greatest weakness is in the construction of its songs. In “Thunder,” the second track, the first thing you hear is drums and a repeated pattern of deep notes on a synthesizer. As the song moves forward, new parts are added in, but nothing seems to mesh well. The vocals and the guitar are locked in combat for the listener’s attention, and the synthesizer pattern far overstays its welcome, making the whole song feel plodding. A nice mix-up would’ve been to, as the other instruments are added in, spice up the synth pattern with a few extra notes while bringing down the volume on the synth and the guitar to give the vocals their time in the limelight. But as it stands, the songs on Pantomania are simply uninteresting.
While the dull music is the deadliest of Pantomania’s sins, the absolute nail in its musical coffin is the production quality. One of the first things I noticed in the first track, “No Good,” was clipping in the audio. Clipping occurs when the volume picked up by a mic exceeds what the mic can handle. You wind up with a static crunchiness that, while not absolutely unforgivable, doesn’t do much for the album. Combined with the poor balancing between the instruments that I mentioned in the previous paragraph, Pantomania comes across as a mediocre weekend project, not a professional album.
If you’ve read up to here, I doubt you’ll be shocked to find that I wouldn’t recommend Pantomania. It’s so boring that plain oatmeal looks thrilling in comparison. But for me, the saddest part is that I don’t think it’s indicative of the best that Betty Moon can do. There’s evidence of technical skill in Pantomania, but that doesn’t redeem the album for its menagerie of failings. I think there’s a chance that Betty Moon could release something good in the future, but for now, I’d recommend finding avenues for music. If you’re on the hunt for a steady beat and a modern rock style, check out Cape Snow’s self-titled album or Zang! by EagleWolfSnake. But don’t approach Pantomania unless you want to be bored to tears.
*Image from bettymoon.com