When all the world seems a maniacal mess and that fate could fuck you at any moment, remember that there is solace in pop music. There’s meditation in disco beats, therapy in slapping bongos, relaxation in refrains. Just keep singing, even if it be: “OH oh OH oh OH oh OH OH.” Better still if you can synchronize these two-steppin’, stomp-and-shimmy sessions into effective and succinct three-and-a-half-minute punches. Keepers of the keyboard seem like they’d naturally inherit the torch of pop-virtuosity: these children of the 1980s have entered their thirties way ahead of the game, synth-pop scholars having graduated from the New Romantics, the New Wavers, the New Orderers. They have a whole library’s worth of sounds and sensibilities at their fingertips, able to synthesize almost any sound, program any rhythmic cadence, and harmonize it all into a hooking melody.
And, if you’re as studied as Mr. Pan!c (a.k.a. Gerald Roesser), formerly the keyboardist of the gone-before-its-time/beautifully opaque pop outfit Pas/Cal and now of The History of Pan!c, then you might have the delicate balance and focus required to craft what would otherwise sound like a fuzzed-out, four-minute-long cascade of modulated tones, thumping beats, and wavy winsome melodies. That Pan!c comes from Pas/Cal should be an assuring bullet point on his resume. Suffice it to say, he’s cut from the cloth of a new movement in what one might call art-pop, as he’s enlisted the help of members from Pas/Cal, Zoos of Berlin, Lightning Love, Johnny Headband, and The Electric Six.
With Morrissey as muse, Detroit techno-composers as instrumental forebears, and contemporaries as soundboards, The History of Pan!c displays striking sensibility for stirring in that intoxicating sway of disco with the saccharine chimes and delicately-blipped-and-buzzy plods of synth-pop and singeing it with flames of funky bass grooves and space-rock guitars. The robots came and went and came again to reshape us. We all have computerized brains. Keyboard-core is not new anymore, and it’s not nostalgic either. With Pan!c, and the new-new-new-new-wave of pop pushers, it evolves, has to evolve, into something more profound, something that The History of Pan!c achieves through its lyrics: literate, insightful, playful, fierce, flirtatious, ponderous, and, in a sincere way, empowering.
Yes, empowering. The idea should be to use the chemical reactions set off by the sweet melodies and arresting rhythms (found here meticulously arranged and relentlessly poured throughout), and the empowerment could be that utilization. Call it pop, yeah, sure, call it pop, to fight back against the inherent panics of life. Yeah, we’ve got sugary synths and we’re shuffling along to a danceable beat and our vocals are breathy and mellifluous, but we’re ready to shove you back. Run or fight? Wrong or right? Fear can do you in, but, as we’re assured right before the tumbling chorus of the opening track from a songwriter named for frenzy, the world won’t end. Just keep singing.