The Panic Division - Songs from the Glasshouse (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The Panic Division

Songs from the Glasshouse (2007)

The Militia Group

Have you ever needed a soundtrack to go biking past that girl's house you really like but only sees you as friend? Or needed something to listen to at like the Gas 'n' Sip on a Saturday night completely alone drinking beers with no women anywhere? If you answered yes to either of those questions, the Panic Division have heeded your call and given us Songs from the Glasshouse.

By and large this album is a very well-produced pop record that is commanded by its synth parts and the melancholic crooning of vocalist Colton Holliday. What it suffers from most is a lack of variety. The order of the day is cliché sentiments and completely forgettable music due mostly to the fact it tries to reiterate the same angsty tone for practically the entire duration of the album. The fact that they throw in their own interpolation of Mr. Mister's "Broken Wings" only puts an emphasis on how hollow their own songs sound. Joy Division built their career on depressing and alienating the listener, but the difference there is Mr. Curtis and company sounded authentic. The Panic Division on the other hand come off a little more like James Spader's Steff than John Cusack's Lloyd Dobler.

The band does actually get things right on "Big Day" where they employ a huge chorus with a memorable melody. When they decide to delve more deeply into their electronic side on the instrumental "Legacy," it works well because it is a change of pace from the rest of the album. Having things slightly more upbeat on "A Killer Is Born" further demonstrates that Songs from the Glasshouse would get a lot more mileage if they chose to try and incorporate more diverse sounds and tones.

The only real success and credit that can be given to the band is they really know how a record like this should sound on the surface. Unfortunately, the Panic Division don't seem to look far beyond that surface. Despite a few bright spots they don't really accomplish their goal of creating a good pop record and instead turn out something that grabs your attention but is too obtrusive to remain background music. I'd stick to Human League and Mr. Mister myself. So, it is true what they say: People in glass houses shouldn't throw mostly derivative `80s synth pop revival. If they don't in fact say that, then they dang well should.