Rating: 1 and 1/2 out of 5 stars
Panther’s trademark is what he likes to call “floor dancing.” This involves convulsing while supine, performing cheerleading moves, fist pumping, maybe variations on the worm. But when you’re trying to release an album without any visual accompaniment, the stage hysterics just don’t translate.
Secret Lawns shows us what the Fiery Furnaces would be like without the lyrical qualities of the Friedbergers. On “Here We Stand” cacophonous background junk from synths and drum machines feels scattered and forced even before the derivative lyrics begin.
The album suffers another defeat with “Rely on Scent.” An obnoxiously syncopated riff (vaguely reminiscent of Super Mario) meets dreadful lyrics: “These people didn’t invite you / They had a piece of pie / And you could smell the scent / And you could smell that scent.” Later, Panther resorts to vocal variations of the word “oh” – it’s like Beyonce’s “Crazy in Love” without the pop or sex appeal.
Though it’s rare, Panther does have some better selling points. “How Well Can You Swim” offers a hypnotic lyrical drone, meshed together with layered vocal wails – almost like a TV on the Radio effort – held together by snappy drum machine. The song is intermittently chopped apart by strangely appropriate sounds of shattering glass. The track remains danceable throughout and never slips into boredom or complete obnoxiousness.
Secret Lawns would better serve as the accompaniment than as the main feature. Even if floor dancing is the next big craze – and Panther certainly has it down to near perfection – maybe he’d be better off releasing a work-out video as opposed to an album.