Priya Panda is a Maharashtrian-Canadian vocalist who rose to fame as the lead singer of the Canadian hard rock/heavy metal band Diemonds. The band’s 2015 album “Never Wanna Die” was nominated for a JUNO Award (Canada’s version of the Grammys) in the Heavy Metal Album of the Year category.
Priya Panda has also shared the stage with legends like Sebastian Bach, George Lynch, Akira Takasaki and Vinnie Appice during the Monsters of Rock cruise. She also famously appeared on the “Glam Metal” episode of Banger Films’ Metal debate show “Lock Horns”. On the show, she, alongwith Banger Films founder Sam Dunn, discussed the bands that belonged to the “Glam” subgenre of heavy metal. She went on to appear in the “Sexism in Metal” debate on Lock Horns as well. Aside from the hard and heavy stuff, Priya Panda also performs for ABBARAMA, an ABBA tribute band.
After releasing Diemonds’ self titled album in 2018, Priya Panda has also worked on some solo material inspired by 80s pop bands like Depeche Mode. She released her first two singles “Take Me Back” and “Shook U Off” earlier this year. She has recently released her third single “Freaky Girl” and that’s the song we are reviewing here.
Growing up in Toronto, Priya Panda spent her teenage years sifting through record stores for hours. That’s where she discovered (alongside hard rock) underground and freestyle pop records. She fell in love with the dark, 80s pleasure pop like Stacey Q and Vanity.
The influence of all of that 80s goodness is evident in “Freaky Girl”. From the second the song starts and the synth riff hits, you are immediately transported to the 80s. But it’s more of Depeche Mode’s Black Celebration type of 80s than Rick Astley’s. “Freaky Girl” is definitely more Darkwave than New Wave. For a modern reference, just think of the soundtrack to Stranger Things and you are getting there.
One of Priya Panda’s most popular songs with Diemonds is “Ain’t that Kind of Girl”. It’s safe to say, it has been quite a journey from that to “Freaky Girl”. The track kicks off with a simple and catchy drumbeat with some interesting instrumentation that leads to a delectably dark keyboard riff.
It does a great job of creating a slightly eerie and “freaky” atmosphere before Priya Panda’s vocals kick in. People who only know Priya Panda through her work with Diemonds might be a little surprised as the high pitched rock goddess wails are replaced by the brooding melancholia of an 80s darkwave songstress. Her voice sounds tonally perfect for this song and she enunciates the words very well with her vocal performance.
Musically, the track has a rich and full 80s darkwave style accompaniment. Delay and reverb heavy guitars do a great job of building the ambience as the synths go crazy. The drums have also got a great 80s vibe to them (though the snare could’ve sounded a bit more “80s”). The track has been mixed and mastered very well, exuding the rich 80s vibe from every note. It’s easy to overproduce a track like “Freaky Girl” but we are happy to report that isn’t the case.
The accompanying music video of the song is also quite interesting. The aspect ratio and video quality keep changing from the 4:3 VHS tapes of the 80s to the 16:9 UHD screens of today. It’s a great way for a modern day pop song to hearken back to the 80s, acoustically and visually.
If you love the 80s, retro synthwave or just love the sounds of Stranger Things, you will definitely enjoy “Freaky Girl”.
Verdict: Manages to sound fresh and nostalgic at the same time.