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:Retrowerks: Panic Lift – Is This Goodbye?

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Panic Lift – Is This Goodbye?
Release Date: November 13, 2012
Label: Metropolis Records
Website: OfficialFacebookInstagramTumblrTwitterYouTubeVimeo

Review by Jaymie Burzette

Panic Lift is an industrial band from Newark, New Jersey founded in 2006. Is This Goodbye? is their fourth release which is very different from what you would expect to hear from them. The vocals are no longer heavily distorted and their sound has changed from harsh EBM/electro-industrial to being sort of all over the place; ranging from synthpop and EBM to elements of industrial metal and trip-hop. At first I was rather taken aback by this new sound and it took me about a week of listening to this album to warm up to it. After listening to it multiple times I began to appreciate it and found little details that I quite enjoyed, but there were still a few aspects that bothered me about it.

The album opens with “Temptress,” a synthy and bouncy track with a largely synthpop sound. The vocals are clean and the chorus has a great melody. Its little melodies and rhythms made my brain feel all fuzzy and warm. This is probably one of my favorite songs on this album; it’s quite danceable and has a great beat. “Kill Me Faster” maintains the synthpop feeling and has another great melody for the chorus. This track has more of an ’80s influenced beat with a slightly less polished sound than the first track. “Transient” is when the album starts to move away from the synthpop sound, feeling a little more raw and harsh when compared to the first two tracks. The vocals here are also processed, with the song periodically moving into distorted guitars and more harshly processed vocals.

“When Euphoria Ends” is another synthy track, returning more to the light bounciness of the first two tracks, but it lacks the catchy melodies and just doesn’t stand out. “Footsteps” has elements that remind me very much of early VNV Nation, around their Solitary days, with the rest of the track feeling more like modern synthpop/EBM. I enjoyed this track more than the previous two, but it still feels like something is missing, something that makes the track stand out and catch listeners. “Awake” has more elements of industrial metal but lacks the harshness and overall distortion to outright call this track industrial metal. As with most of the other tracks on this album, it feels like something is missing musically. It just doesn’t stand out like it should.

“Bad Company” feels different from the rest of the album, with female vocals and a record scratching effect that makes me think of the trip-hop styles that were popular in the late ’90s. The beats, other elements, and sound effects of this track also feel very late ’90s trip-hop, a bit like Massive Attack. “Pushed Aside” brings the album back to what I feel are its strong points—dance-y, bouncy, synthy tracks with catchy chorus melodies. For me, I feel like the tracks in between do not hold up as well; they aren’t as memorable nor are they as rich composition-wise. “Is This Goodbye?” maintains the melodies I find appealing, and musically is somewhere between the synthpop sound with less dance-influenced drum beats and guitars. “We Are The Illusion” closes out the album not with a bang, but with a soft shudder and sigh. Gentle drum beats play over soft synth and piano tracks with samples laid over the audio. The track is soft yet strong, pushing out the end of the album. There was something about this track that greatly appealed to me (aside from the crying baby sample); something that made the colors swim and swirl around in my head peacefully.

I found this album to be enjoyable, but overall it feels like there’s something missing. It has some great elements and aspects that I very much enjoyed, yet there’s not much to differentiate the album as a whole. Lyrically, this album offers some great content, but the musical composition side is where things seem to fall off. I think part of the problem is that this album does not feel as cohesive as it should; it almost feels like there were different producers for different tracks leaving a less tied-together sound (there were in fact two producers—Ted Phelps and James Francis). This is definitely not a bad album, nor should the reader come away from this review thinking this album is bad. It just isn’t where it should be. Furthermore, I prefer their older sound, but this is a personal preference, I just tend to like their harsher sound better. Others who enjoyed Panic Lift’s previous work will most likely find themselves sharing my opinion, but it is definitely worth listening to.

Track Listing
01. Temptress
02. Kill Me Faster
03. Transient
04. When Euphoria Ends
05. Footsteps
06. Awake
07. Bad Company (feat. Zeena Koda)
08. Pushed Aside
09. Is This Goodbye?
10. We Are The Illusion

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