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Panic Division, The - Songs from the Glasshouse Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 8.75
Musicianship 8.5
Lyrics 7
Production 9.5
Creativity 7.75
Lasting Value 7.25
Reviewer Tilt 8
Final Verdict: 81%
Member Ratings
Vocals 8.5
Musicianship 8.92
Lyrics 8.08
Production 9.08
Creativity 9.08
Lasting Value 8.75
Reviewer Tilt 8.67
Average: 87%
Inside AP.net

Panic Division, The - Songs from the Glasshouse

Reviewed by: Steve Henderson (08/20/07)
The Panic DivisionSongs from the Glasshouse
Release Date: August 21, 2007
Record Label: The Militia Group

There are a lot of words that can be used to describe ‘80s revival acts. There are the dark, mopey ones (Nightmare of You), dance-obsessed acts (Elkland), fuzzy rockers (The Strokes), and many more. However, a word that is noticeably absent from this list would be “epic” – a deficiency The Panic Division seems more than willing to remedy. With their sophomore release, Songs from the Glasshouse, Colton Holliday and the gang hone and define their sound to a razor’s edge, and the end result is an exceedingly solid offering.

When The Panic Division released Versus in late 2005, the album seemed to be rather well-received, but that was largely in part due to its inoffensive nature. The record’s rock backbone with electro-pop sprinkles appealed to a sizable audience, but perhaps that was due to the work’s lack of overall cohesion or items that might otherwise speak of The Panic Division’s deserving of a place in modern rock’s Respect List(TM), or better yet – on your CD shelf.

The biggest blemish on Versus (arguably) was the fact that the electronic elements – the loops, samples, beats – they all seemed like a bit too much of an afterthought – a last minute attempt at differentiation. While I am sure this is not the case, it seemed that far too many songs would utilize the electro elements well in an intro, say, but would then decay into what were just simply above average rock tunes. If someone raised this issue with the band between records, it most certainly stuck, as Songs from the Glasshouse suffers no such malady. The band’s sound is much more ambient, much more ‘80s, and much more cohesive under the umbrella of its new-wave revival confidence. The synth work is excellent on Glasshouse (a colossal improvement), and serves to tie the songs together quite well, as do the samples and electro-doodling interludes.

As an album, Songs from the Glasshouse is quite strong as a unit, with many standout tracks. “Your Satellite,” “Big Day,” and “From the Top” are all solid contenders, but the album really comes to a head with “Day You Left.” This is the type of track that borders dangerously on perfection – it is incredibly poignant both lyrically and musically, but it still drives forward with a fundamental energy, all while avoiding any clichés or other such common pitfalls. It ends up being the kind of song that would highlight a scene with the most gravitas in a delightfully dramatic film, matching its visual counterpart in cinematic vision. It is also worth noting that The Panic Division’s cover of Mr. Mister’s “Broken Wings” is quite excellent as well, and is perhaps better than the original to which it pays tribute.

While quite enjoyable, the Glasshouse does still have some dirty windows, though. As is the case with most synth-rock, the tracks have a propensity to bleed together and sound a bit too similar – especially when they are stitched together with interludes as they are here. And lyrically, the band is not going to pop up on too many notable quote boards. But still, despite these issues, Songs from the Glasshouse is a resounding success – the true sound of a band hitting its stride. The music is emotive and entertaining, the production is breathtaking, and the progress the band has displayed across albums is admirable, indeed. If you are at all a fan of the genre, the band, or the label here, you would do well to pick this one up.


Recommended if you like: Rock Kills Kid, Duran Duran, Depeche Mode, U2, Days Like These, New Order, Mr. Mister
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 28
07:22 AM on 08/20/07
#2
Vanilla Bear
celebrate the irony
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great review dude!! very good intro...never thought of this band that way.

i've never been a huge electronic fan, but this works quite well. very solid album...agree w/ the review 100%.
07:22 AM on 08/20/07
#3
hailthewarrior
i can't shake this little feeling
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I really enjoyed Versus so this has me pumped to go pick this up. Good review!
07:41 AM on 08/20/07
#4
jtmatchett
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I was also a huge fan of Versus, but I could not believe the improvement on this album. The line about the electronic loops, "they all seemed like a bit too much of an afterthought", is exatcly the way I felt. I have been listening to many of the new songs as they appear on websites and I really think they have a chance with this one! I hope it really gets them recognition! They deserve it! Can't wait to go pick it up tomorrow!:)

p.s. - Awesome review! Probably one of the best i've seen on here so far!
07:42 AM on 08/20/07
#5
_all_star_me_
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This record is so good. Can't wait to pick it up tomorrow!
07:47 AM on 08/20/07
#6
PoliticalMike
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LOL, this album is 90% garbage. The only people who will like this are those who aren't old enough to remember when all this music was done the first time. It's such a shameless ripoff of 1980's acts I have to wonder if this band has their tongue firmly planted in their cheeks.
07:50 AM on 08/20/07
#7
vandalroyale
Down and almost out
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I always thought their first album was Verses
08:20 AM on 08/20/07
#8
Steve Henderson
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LOL, this album is 90% garbage. The only people who will like this are those who aren't old enough to remember when all this music was done the first time. It's such a shameless ripoff of 1980's acts I have to wonder if this band has their tongue firmly planted in their cheeks.
Don't be a fucking dweeb...I am 25, so obviously I grew up in the 80s, and I think the record is excellent.

It's called a throwback, not a ripoff. Get off your high horse.
08:23 AM on 08/20/07
#9
Steve Henderson
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I always thought their first album was Verses
I think the first pressing might have been called "Verses", but the latest:

08:38 AM on 08/20/07
rich_wbd
I just blue myself.
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Their cd release show was PERFECT, the best i've ever seen them. PLEASE PICK UP THIS RECORD PEOPLE!
08:38 AM on 08/20/07
vandalroyale
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I think the first pressing might have been called "Verses", but the latest:


Hmmm, I coulda sworn, but either way I enjoy their music-- oh and excellent use of the word dweeb...I like
09:02 AM on 08/20/07
[Mike]
making waves.
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I always thought their first album was Verses
Before TMG signed them, they self-released an album called Verses, but then changed around the tracklist, added / removed some songs, changed the artwork and re-released it as 'Versus' under TMG.

Excellent album / review, although I would give this CD at least a 90 if not higher, this is gonna be one of the top albums of the year for me.
09:03 AM on 08/20/07
vandalroyale
Down and almost out
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Before TMG signed them, they self-released an album called Verses, but then changed around the tracklist, added / removed some songs, changed the artwork and re-released it as 'Versus' under TMG.

Excellent album / review, although I would give this CD at least a 90 if not higher, this is gonna be one of the top albums of the year for me.

Thanks for the info
09:27 AM on 08/20/07
joeygiraldo
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I like the review but there's a couple of REALLY glaring errors here.

1 - You lumped The Strokes in the sentence about 80s revival. The Strokes didn't revive anything from the 80s. They are garage rock, nothing that the 80s were about, if anything they revived the late 70s and post-punk.
2 - The Panic Division have explicitly stated that they created all their songs *around* their electronic loops, and that's what's made them different. I agree with you that it SEEMS as if the electronics were an afterthought (they couldve used them better in their first album), the fact is that they weren't.
09:31 AM on 08/20/07
Steve Henderson
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I like the review but there's a couple of REALLY glaring errors here.

1 - You lumped The Strokes in the sentence about 80s revival. The Strokes didn't revive anything from the 80s. They are garage rock, nothing that the 80s were about, if anything they revived the late 70s and post-punk.
2 - The Panic Division have explicitly stated that they created all their songs *around* their electronic loops, and that's what's made them different. I agree with you that it SEEMS as if the electronics were an afterthought (they couldve used them better in their first album), the fact is that they weren't.
#1 - Fair enough - I still think they incorporate some 80s elements into their music. You could also argue they are more 50s or 60s than 70s or 80s regardless.

#2 - I explicitly stated that in the review:

Originally Posted by Steve Henderson
The biggest blemish on Versus (arguably) was the fact that the electronic elements – the loops, samples, beats – they all seemed like a bit too much of an afterthought – a last minute attempt at differentiation. While I am sure this is not the case, it seemed that far too many songs would utilize the electro elements well in an intro, say, but would then decay into what were just simply above average rock tunes.
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