After a couple of line-up changes leading to 2010’s live-off-the-floor LP How Come I’m Dead?, the third album from Vancouver’s (or Edmonton’s, depending on who you ask) Hot Panda invests its energy into a more thoughtful mode of creation. While tackling crippling social disorders like cynicism, depression and closed-mindedness in their lyrics, Go Outside retains the energy, humor and sub-genre diversity of their earlier releases and renowned live performances—what principal songwriter Chris Connelly describes as “artful pop music, but played with a punk rock spirit.”Connelly tackles some intense subject matter on this record, addressing visceral socio-political topics like “with us or against us” extremism on opener “One in the Head, One in the Chest,” and the sad state of the market-based global economy on the brooding “Future Markets.” Elsewhere, tracks like “Littered Coins” and “Boats” provoke quieter moments of reflection. Yet this is not a transition from Hot Panda’s freewheeling, light-hearted roots to soul-baring egotism and moralizing—Go Outside is not about reveling in negative thought patterns, but the struggle and value in overcoming them. Overall, Connelly’s lyrics are more worldly, while his voice itself, processed but not pitch-corrected, sounds more grounded.Continuing their legacy of eclectic lo-fi indie pop albums for Mint Records, Go Outside presents a snapshot of a band reaching a new plateau, solidifying Hot Panda as a one of the brightest stars on the Mint roster. Once again recorded by the famed JC / DC team of David Carswell and John Collins (The New Pornographers, Tegan and Sara), the album is just as vibrant as their first two, yet significantly more developed. Last one to file this in their record collection between Destroyer and Hunx and His Punx is a rotten egg.