Mary Broadcast – PANIC

The percussion is beating forth like a pulse in Mary Broadcast’s “Zone 4,” as if to embody the vitality of the song all on its own, but as anyone who listens to the complete track – along with the five others it’s joined by in the new record Panic – will understand, the same could be said for the other elements within the mix.

The truth is, there isn’t a single component melodic or physical in nature that doesn’t feel like a centerpiece in a song like “Zone 4,” and this is entirely because of the prog-heavy influence that Mary Broadcast is embracing for the whole of Panic, including songs like the otherwise ultra-poppy “Bastille.”

She’s taking a page out of old school concept album rules and sewing everything together in a giant quilt of communique here, and although there are moments where her technique is arguably surpassed by the ambitiousness of the project and the stages of life it’s meant to encapsulate, never is there a second where she sounds like she’s in over her heard. Quite the opposite is true, and you needn’t give this EP more than a cursory examination to understand what I’m talking about.

Bazar” has a full-bodied thrust that often makes it feel so much bigger than it really is, and at under four minutes in total running time, it’s unquestionably among the more efficient tracks you’re going to hear on any pop record between America and Austria this February. The title track has the most intricacies, and yet it plays out with such seamlessness that one almost has to question if it’s a cover of something more iconic, be it foreign to the mainstream audience.

It’s only in “Sing It” where Mary Broadcast sounds like she’s directly addressing a demand from her contemporaries to sport surreal concepts inside of minimalist pop song structures, but she does it in such a way as to make it hard for critics like me to call it part of a trend. If this makes her a major rebel among her peers, I think she’s fine with that – after all, there’s nothing about Panic to suggest that fitting in with the standard in pop music is anything but a dreaded nightmare for this skillful, one of a kind singer and songwriter.

Anchored by the darkness of “Aver” and “Zone 4” but still buoyed by a light pop sensibility that we find at its strongest in a song like the rocker “Bastille,” I think this is the first concept record to really win me over this year.

Mary Broadcast has been making some amazing music leading up to the release of this extended play, but with Panic, I think she asserts herself as one of the more important musicians to watch in her scene at the moment, and it’s mostly because of the broad intellect that she brings to the table in all six songs of this track list. She’s got her heart set on the stars, and this is just the kind of release to launch her there.

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