In early 2003, the easily excited British music press found
reason to champion The Hiss as the heirs to the British rock
throne. With a debut album yet to be recorded, The Hiss served as a
source of hope for fans of the mid-’90s Brit-pop scene. The
excitement grew as former Oasis and Verve producer, Owen Morris,
signed on to record their debut album, Panic Movement. The fate of
the U.K. rock sound now rests on the shoulders of four young men
from Atlanta.

“Clever Kicks” opens the album with a swell of
fierce guitars and pounding drums that sets the tone for the rest
of the album. “Back on The Radio” is the most blatant
Oasis imitation on the entire album. Its origins can be traced back
to Oasis’s “Bring it on Down,” boasting an
identical chord progression and a solo worthy of Noel Gallagher.
The song may have been a successful imitation if it were not for
the lackluster vocals of Adrian Barrera. The passion and swagger
that Liam Gallagher projected in 1994 is nowhere to be found inside
of Barrera, making the song sound like a cover rather than an
original.

“Not for Hire” chronicles the band’s feelings
of distrust as labels flocked to sign them in 2003. Barrera sings,
“We know what you’ve been eating in your fancy
restaurants / and we don’t like it.” Barrera may have
been taking a jab at record executives or filet mignon —
it’s difficult to tell. “Triumph” is the
album’s best song with its hard-edged guitar work and bluesy
vocals that create an ominous soundscape to compliment its menacing
lyrics. Morris’s production is stellar on this track, as he
finally seems to realize that the band he is working with is not
actually Oasis.

“Ghost’s Gold” is the moment when The Hiss
finally hit their stride. A choir chants the haunting melody while
the guitar duels with a harmonica, reminiscent of Gorillaz’
“Clint Eastwood.”

The album is a huge disappointment considering the massive hype
that surrounded the band. At this point, The Hiss are a sum of
their influences; they need to stop emulating their heroes and find
their own sound.

 

Music Review: 2 stars

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