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Panico - Subliminal Kill

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Artist: Panico

Album: Subliminal Kill

Label: Tigersushi

Review date: May. 15, 2005

Although Chile’s Panico have released several major-label albums in South America, Subliminal Kill is their first album to make it to the States (albeit by way of Tigersushi, a French label). Despite the Latin and European connection, the band draws largely on American influences; their fusion of garage rock scrappiness and No Wave-inspired grooves puts them roughly in the same field as U.S. dance-punk outfits like the Rapture, !!!, and Radio 4. While Panico differ enough from their American counterparts to merit a listen, Subliminal Kill is something of a mixed bag, oscillating awkwardly between styles and searching for a signature sound.

While clearly fond of flirting with punk (“Anfetaminado”), Panico get much better results when they aim for the more dance-oriented end of their musical spectrum. The strongest tracks here (“Transpira Lo,” “Iguana”) are the most heavily produced, full of genre-mashing and self-conscious pastiche. Without the support of electronic ornamentation, Panico’s grooves often fall flat, relying on pedestrian beats and basslines that could never fill a dance floor on their own. Subliminal Kill’s sparser tracks (“Que Pasa Wey,” “Guerra Nuclear”) are comparatively dull and overlong, and in their attempt to be both punk and funk, succeed at neither. The album’s only constant is singer/guitarist Eduardo’s manic delivery, which constantly threatens to breach the thin line between amusing and obnoxious. Nonetheless, a certain stylistic exaggeration seems to be key to Panico’s sound; perhaps it’s just that bright blue lightning bolt on the front cover, but it’s not hard to imagine the band as a troupe of animated characters in Gorillaz fashion.

While one can’t accuse Panico of jumping on the dance-punk bandwagon (they’ve been at this since 1994), they seem to be emerging at the waning end of a musical trend. Moreover, Subliminal Kill, despite some strong tracks, doesn’t make a convincing case for their long term potential. Then again, the band may simply be going through a transitional period: divided between two producers, two languages, and multiple musical directions, Panico may simply need a little more time to find their niche.

By Michael Cramer

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