June Panic – Hope You Fail Better

5 out of 5

Produced by: Daniel C. Smith

Label: Secretly Canadian

Panic’s most confident release to date, blending the lushness of Horror Vacui / Silver Sounds with the noisy crunch of Baby’s Breadth.

June has proven a most prolific dude, but one with focus: Obsessed with birth, and death, and a religion-fueled concept of rebirth, despite starting his musical journey mired in skronky pseudo punk, those themes always kept him tethered and pointed forward.  So for all of his zeal, you never got an impression of someone just committing anything to tape.  June presented with purpose.  The religious tag shouldn’t concern: his explorations are internal, fascinating diatribes on his choices, or drilled-down contemplations on his drives, often bereft of the type of filter we might expect from a god-fearing fella.

Baby’s Breadth has this conversation zeroing in on birth itself; Hope You Fail Better, so gleefully named, is the logical followup: raising that child.  Thinking over mistakes made, to be made, and accepting them, while also inevitably trawling back to relationships past to consider what brought one to this point….  And the patient, beautiful mess of sound Panic and producer Daniel Smith create is entrancing.  Panic has, certainly, a screechy voice that’s an acquired taste, but I’m amazed at how well he’s learned to meld it with his music, toning down his yelps and sensing where it’s most effective to let loose.  This allows the music to drift from slow menmace (as in opener Dirge Without Music) to loose and joyous (Both Sides of Paper (Can Be Used)), to delicate (On H’s “They”) and back again, keys and other flourishes drifting through the background, carried by the lovely fuzz of guitar and a crisp beat.  There’s perhaps not a standout single, but the entire album makes an impact, guiding one from one emotion to the next.

And of course, this ultimate achievement – a peak in narrative and song construction – has been the last new material we’ve gotten from June in quite some time.  But he definitely established a mini legacy in his years, with Hope You Fail Better as an ideal coda.