April 21, 2004

Panurge "THrow Down the Reins"

Throw Down The Reins, Panurge's third album, is a fun mixture of electronics, acoustic guitar and a wit so sharp that you could mistake this Vancouver trio for a British band. Though folk might not be the right word to describe Panurge's music, it's the best word to describe their mindset. Though they've got a keen sense of humor, they're not too light-hearted, either. Prim, proper and educated, with a pastoral pop style that reminds you of rolling hills and neighborhood pubs, Panurge have that whole Blighty thing down.

Of course, it's easy to think these things, considering that Panurge sound like an electronica-minded XTC. No, this comparison is a valid one, especially whenever you hear Christopher Lowell sing. See, he's a dead ringer for Andy Partridge, especially on great songs like "Sweet Fanny Annie" and "You've Pleased the King." At the same time, they've got this fun, 'let's play with these electronic doohickeys and make some silly funk music' attitude that recalls both Beck and Beta Band. Other times, like "Mixed Cavalry" and "Hang Your Head," they're a little more serious, but they're never less than breezy and they're NEVER too serious. Throw all of these these things together and Throw Down The Reins and we're talking about this year's English Settlement. Except made by Canadians.

This folky formula doesn't always work, though. Panurge's ideas are good, but Throw Down The Reins falls victim to a monotony that sometimes causes the album to drag. It's not for a lack of ideas or good songwriting; they've got great ideas and the music is good. It can be difficult being funny all the time, and sometimes it's hard to sustain the same ideas over the length of an album. This is true in Panurge's case, and the only prescription for such a problem is a simple one: growth. This is only their third album (and first non self-released one to boot), so just give 'em some time and I'm sure Panurge's weaker moments will soon be worked out. As it stands, Throw Down the Reins is an enjoyable record of sunshine pop, folk songwriting and fun music. Can't ask for anything more than that!

--Joseph Kyle

Artist Website: http://www.panurge.net
Label Website: http://www.nettwerk.com

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