June Panic – Baby’s Breadth

3 out of 5

Label: Secretly Canadian

Producer: June Panic (mixing)

June Panic’s brand of lo-fi rock has never blown me away, but I have been impressed by the breadth of material and effort from the one-man show, Panic putting out tons of self-produced / recorded stuff over several, several albums.  And though maybe not blown away, the discs have always been worth listening to for the golden poppy oddball gems that are generally scattered amongst the nasally singing and sloppy riffage.  So he’s my lil’ version of Guided By Voices, since Bob Pollard’s vocals never worked for me and GBV material leans more on a college rock sound than the folky pop Panic has continually stabbed from various angles.  Plus June Panic is a pretty cool name, yeah?

When Baby Breadth’s came out, it warranted some further attention because June had gone all God on us, which was weird for a guy whose first official album was called ‘Glory Hole’ and had the titular hole fixed on a religious figure for its cover.  Evil and human nature and etcetera have been constant topics for June’s simple yet odd and sometimes completely bonkers lyrics, so maybe it wasn’t too far off, but how would it change things?  Well, it made them a lot more confusing.  ‘Breadth’ has some of those same gems on it.  Opener ‘Peter Panic’ is a great, fully realized track with a good beat that stretches from pop to something more aggressive and back, and followup ‘My Mid-Husband Arrives’ brings in an 80s beat to good effect to pick up the pace.  The success rate goes up and down but stays above water until about midway through the album.  The title and lyrics are definitely focused on being born, and then, why not, why get to a track called ‘Sex is for Children’ where June asks us to fuck next to kids.  I’m no prude (the prudes always say), but the track has stuck out from day one and here, several years on, it still sticks out.  Panic isn’t raving, though, he sounds almost bored delivering the oddity, and such is the case with the latter half of the album, as though exhausted from whatever concept captured him.  The tunes and singing just blend together, and you lose track of where you are.  If you keep it on repeat, when you get back to the beginning you might find some of these emotions lingering  – there’s an energy lacking in the background of a lot of the songs.  So a man possessed by the holy is smiling at us now while singing instead of smirking.  But then there’s still an equal dose of the negative in the words, but cynicism and anger has seemed to turn into fear of coming into a world of sin…

It’s a confusing affair and a confusing listen.  From afar, it works like most of June’s albums, and as mentioned, the beginning half has some great tracks.  But ‘Breadth’ never found its way into as constant rotation as my other Panic albums, feeling like a more insular affair and an attempt to shake out some ghosts blocking Panic from getting back to his Silver Sounds…    (silver reference nabbed from Allmusic woop woop)

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