Panurge’s new album, Throw Down the Reins, should serve as a stark and foreboding warning against a burgeoning evil about to be set upon popular music. As American society moves forward through the ages, matters which once were at the forefront of socially moral consciousness seem to wane from their stature of pressing issues, inevitably falling by the wayside, trampled by the constant progress of social development.
Such issues, like smallpox, the Communist menace and seatbelt legislation, are ignored because, in the eyes of the community, they have already been dealt with. Thus, more immediate problems may be addressed, such as AIDS, gay marriage or decency in the media.
But what we must not do is continue pretending that a social ill has been decimated when it could merely be incubating, awaiting the perfect moment to strike. Unfortunately, we often do not realize a threat is still present until bodies and albums start dropping. I am, of course, talking about the increasingly prevalent inability of bands to have fun.
While a recent resurgence of mirth-searching bands such as The Darkness and Franz Ferdinand may lead us to believe that music can be enjoyable and dancey, this is not so.
Panurge is the first of what will certainly be a long line of casualties as bands begin to succumb to the idea that they are not allowed to enjoy themselves.
Misleadingly named songs like “Sweet Fanny Annie” and “Ginny and the Flower Girl,” aside from being horribly titled, collapse under the band’s unwavering restraint and determined disinterest.
The songs are so mundane and, for lack of a better term, unfun, that even Panurge sounds bored. It isn’t until the upbeat skip of “Mixed Cavalry” that the band actually loosens up and sets the drum machine to “Dance.” But, sadly, the tone has already been established and even the swagger of “Hang Your Head” does nothing to save this album from stunning mediocrity.