Panico’s first album for five years ties up neatly with a couple of exquisite coincidences. Having just completed a tour of ghost towns left abandoned by European miners, the Chilean group release their album in the same week as their 33 countrymen inch closer to rescue 700m underground in San Jose. Even the cover artwork for Kick features what looks like a mine shaft.
With the elements combining in their favour, it’s almost a given that the music should be sharply energetic and appealing, and so it largely proves. The band tread an unusual line between post punk and South American percussiveness, weighted towards the former with the occasional unpredictable stylistic turn and plenty of energy.
For newcomers it takes a few listens to become fully acquainted with their style, but helpful starting points are The Rapture, !!! and LCD Soundsystem. These influences are immediately found in the bass line of a track such as Icon, grubby yet well designed for disco action.
Reverberation Mambo provides instant gratification. Like a spin off from Ram Jam‘s Black Betty played in an aircraft hangar, it’s right up there with some of DFA’s more thrilling interfaces of punk and dancefloor. Illumination, too, rocks over like a stripped back version of Franz Ferdinand‘s Do You Want To, which is less of a coincidence than it might have been, given the band appear in the album credits.
The energetic stompathons continue with Algodon, which hurls itself into a wordless chorus, given a ballsy garage punk backing that will thump satisfyingly through the neighbours’ walls, and Up Town Boy, with its catchy, floaty chorus. Not every track has the same forward drive, and Guadalupe, which finds them proclaiming “I am the son of the monkey”, loses its focus amidst animal noises and distortion, despite the persuasive funk of the bass line. I Wanna Be Your Needle, meanwhile, tries just that bit too hard to strut its stuff and forgets to include a memorable melody.
These are however the exceptions rather than the rule, the overriding memory that of a band committed to raw energy and twisted, post punk funk. For an off kilter alternative to New York’s stripped back disco queens, Panico offer thrills and spills with much to spare.