I’ve been tracking Panama Wedding’s progress for about a year now. For those of you who don’t know, Panama Wedding is an electronic/alternative/pop band based in Manhattan. Initially comprised of now-lead singer Peter Kirk and his computer, Panama Wedding has since expanded into a full ensemble with a rhythm section. Kirk began his musical career as a classically trained pianist before turning to synth-based music in his later years.
After releasing their debut EP, Parallel Play, in 2014, Panama Wedding amassed nationwide attention. Now, its second and most recent EP released in November 2015, Into Focus, has launched the band into a broader public sphere.
Into Focus starts off with “Halfway to Heaven,” an artificially produced track that emphasizes complicated beats and a strong vocal presence. The swelling chorus uses a heavy electric guitar and strong drumbeat to convey the storyline while the verses are faded and focused around Kirk’s voice. Kirk explains his own fears in the lyrics, “Wide awake in the middle of the desert heat / 100 miles to New Mexico / With the devil in my limousine.”
“Infinite High” has a softer, quieter electronic feel and sounds evoking summer sunsets and warm night drives. Its driving force is a steady beat with organic hand claps, while the chorus creates layers of multiple vocals to produce a larger band feel without losing intimacy with the listener. “Infinite High” speaks to being unsure of your place in life when Kirk sings, “And its getting all too much / Your life is getting hard / Living month to month on a credit card.”
Kirk’s most personal song on the EP, “Into Focus,” addresses his struggles of balancing work and music and how he overcame those difficulties. Starting slow with echoing beats and a repetitive guitar riff, Kirk sings, “I’m amazed why you would believe in me,” speaking to all of those without faith in themselves. He continues, “I’ve been working all day long / I’ve been working out of my mind / Waiting for my thoughts to shape into focus.” It has a dance sound without feeling too electronic and lends a reassuring message to all those doubting their own focus.
My personal favorite track, “A Brand New Life,” has an upbeat underlying force pushing the song forward. It considers leaving everything behind and setting off for a fresh start. (Does that not sound great right now?) Kirk deals with being cheated by life plans when he sings, “I didn’t know / This was the ending I was sold.” With a sound extremely similar to The 1975, “A Brand New Life” lays out dreams and hopes for the audience to share like, “I wanna live on the north shore / I wanna cut my hair.” The bridge is comprised of simple claps and a piano before the chorus returns one final time, driving home the point of leaving behind a life you’re unhappy with.
The closing song, “Younger Love,” is constituted of simple electric guitar and synth. It uses fewer instruments to demonstrate stripping yourself of all worldly stereotypes and understanding that we are all the same. Kirk concludes his EP by singing, “Isn’t it a small world? / Isn’t it a strange time? / How we’re all forced to smile to each other.”
With just under 7,000 Twitter followers, Panama Wedding is by no means a household name, but by steadily expanding its fan base and consistently churning out quality music, Panama Wedding can expect continued and widespread success.