2 out of 5
Label: June Panic
Produced by: June Panic
Hm, I may have a good amount of criticisms over the ups and downs of June Panic’s output, but I wouldn’t have ever declared the artist as lacking in hooks, or energy, and yet, the majority of his second full-length release on Secretly Canadian is very lacking in both, and for the bulk of its 23 tracks. Also: take a look at that title – yes, this disc has the vibe of being up its own ass. June’s liner notes (either comments on the material, or quaint presentations of the lyrics / album themes) are often written in this overly theoretical, wordy style, but it feels isolated to those notes, whereas his music is pretty accessible, both musically and lyrically. So it’s actually kind of endearing in that sense, that this intelligentsia dude has to decipher his own ramblings into his tunes. But here, we’re given some minimal schmooze in the liner notes presenting Panic as an “author,” and then the disc appears to have a structure split up by several “Demographic”-named tracks, and probably an attempt to give each of those sections a particular lyrical / musical vibe as well, trading in June’s frantic focus on sex plus faith for a more general top-down view of relationships and self-worth and entropy. While thematically this lines up with June’s work in general, the way this is presented doesn’t end up ringing true as an album – it’s more of a concept – and forefronts the most “entropic” of the tunes so that we’re lost in hookless, mumbling fuzz for 13 tracks before we get to a spattering few songs that actually sound like June.
The last third, when our narrator or whoever maybe discovers faith and comes to terms with some of the world’s chaotic tendencies, is the most fleshed out and steady – somewhere between this mid section and last section there’s a solid EP of pop tunes and sad indies and simple folksters, mixing Panic’s lo-fo punk with his Dylan troubadour side, but that’s hardly a quarter’s worth of the album overall, leaving a lot for experimentation (noise tracks, sped-up vocals), poorly mixed mush- even by Glory Hole standards – and short, hookless tracks. Repeat listens do help to flesh out the popcraft buried in there, but it’s just not as notable when coming from any other JP disc, and so doesn’t necessarily invite the need to relisten to it in the first place.