Panic Attack (Marquis Label Services)
Rococode recorded the material that makes up Panic Attack while off the grid in a remote cabin in the forest. Considering this rustic setting, the resulting EP sounds like the exact opposite of what listeners might expect, as it’s a slick collection of radio-friendly electro-pop that sounds distinctly metropolitan.
Panic Attack was made with producers Caleb Shreve (Phantogram) and Ted Gowans (Tegan and Sara), both of whom have experience in making synth-filled pop anthems. This pays off on the title track, which opens the EP with a surge of rock rhythms, postpunk guitars, and clubby bass buzz, while principal band members Laura Smith and Andrew Braun duet on a barrage of instantly hummable hooks about impending anxiety. A couple of tracks later, “The Escape” is similarly punchy, with overdriven guitar tones that make it the collection’s most organic-sounding arrangement.
As enjoyable as these upbeat tunes are, the downtempo material is even better. “Banks” is a particularly lovely synth ballad, its mellow hip-hop beat providing the backdrop for a series of honey-sweet chord changes and out-of-nowhere crescendos of rat-a-tat percussion.
A cover of INXS’s “Never Tear Us Apart” is another beautiful slow burner, and it provides an atmospheric update on the 1988 original’s synth-y soulfulness.
Panic Attack finishes with a remix of the title cut from local duo Humans, who reimagine the song as a minimal dance jam with hypnotic bass and sampled vocal loops. It’s a pleasant way to end the EP, which acts as a very promising preview of Rococode’s upcoming full-length, due out next year.