Panico – Kick

January 01, 1970

(Chemikal Underground)


Panico recorded this sixth and latest album at Franz
Ferdinand’s Glasgow
studio, and for the first couple of tracks, you might almost be fooled into
thinking they are run-of-the-mill post-punk revivalists, prone to the same
sharp edges, the same jittery romanticism as Franz and the legions they’ve
spawned. There’s nothing wrong with album opener “Illumination”‘s bass-led,
stutter-stepped, robot-funk, or with the briskly ominous, patent-leather
alienation of second song “Icon,” just nothing remarkable. None of us are
heartily sick of post-punk now, in 2010, as we might have been half a decade
ago, so it goes down fairly easily, its clipped guitars and vaguely menacing
vocals eliding into a not-bad experience of late-1970s-referencing dance-punk. Yet
as things move along, Panico, who are from Chile, allow more and more of their
South American eccentricities to show through, and it is this, not the color-by-numbers
Gang of Four homage, that makes Kick such a pleasure.


You start to notice, with “Icon” that some pretty smoking
timbale breaks are flaring up in the interstices, giving its strobe-flashing
decades an unusual degree of heat. By “Reverberation Mambo,” singer Eduardo has
given up entirely on trying to sound disaffected – and British – yelping and
riffing and imploring everyone to “Mambo” across a Santana-ish psychedelic vamp.
Three songs later, in “Guadeloupe”, Panico has decided to lead with their
strengths, or at least their differences, building an opening riff almost
entirely out of tonal, samba-esque drumming, bass (that’s co-founder Carolina) and
a few swipes at guitar. “Did you hear about my congas,” Eduardo asks, mid-song,
calling out Tito Puente, and balancing the chill of bands like Interpol and Maximo Park
with the heat of Latin percussion. Even the slow, dreamy,
dramatic-change-of-pace “Distant
Shore” that closes this
album, sets its Nuggets-esque psychedelia to a slinky, claves-clicking


The combination – of spiky, prickly post-punk and warped,
psychedelic Latin pop – is so compelling that you wonder why they didn’t lead
with it. After all, why waste album space, and especially the first-impression
space up front, on a couple of songs that anybody could have written, when you’ve
got something unique? Why not get right to the good stuff? “Listen to my
congas,” indeed.


DOWNLOAD:  “Icon” “Guadeloupe”


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