Album Review: The Hiss’ Panic Movement

I wrote a song for the people, but they never heard a sound

The indie-garage rock band, The Hiss, first made their debut in late 2003 with their album Panic Movement. Corresponding with their album’s release, songs contained within the album such as “Back On The Radio” and “Clever Kicks” made their way into the then-musical mainstream. In fact, the album’s singles have been featured in videogames like 2004’s Tony Hawks Underground 2 and movies such as the DC Comics box office failure Catwoman. However, despite their success in making it onto the big screen, there is shockingly very limited information on The Hiss and their musical endeavors.

Panic Movement’s singles were deemed popular for their rightful reasons; the songs were executed exceptionally well. A band could do a lot with the garage rock formula: some catchy and repetitive lyrics, a distorted guitar, a bass, and a rockin’ drum beat. It was smart, dare I say clever, to put the track “Clever Kicks” as the album’s opener, for the song perfectly establishes the album’s sound, which in turn allows the listener to grasp what they are getting into when the album is played.

Listening beyond the Panic Movement singles, you are bound to discover other notable tracks. Frequently, with songs like “Step Aside,” “Lord’s Prayer,” and “Brass Tracks,” I found myself singing along to, and even sometimes air-guitaring with the choruses and guitar licks present within the tracks. Most of the songs in Panic Movement feel somewhat reminiscent of alt rock you might have heard during the mid to late 1990s.

Formula and experimentation are arguably the two trickiest aspects when it comes to curating an album. If an artist is too experimental (and does not execute a song properly), they risk the album’s sound by having an inconsistent feel or tone. However, if an artist is too formulaic, the album may sound repetitive and musically redundant. Unfortunately, this is where Panic Movement fell short, but only to a point. While there is nothing wrong with use of the iconic garage-rock formula, The Hiss held onto it too much for their own good, for some tracks sound very reminiscent of others as far as the The Hiss’ instrumentation goes.

Panic Movement is a far cry from the perfect album; The Hiss had plenty of room for improvement. But remember, Panic Movement was the debut of the garage rockers. More-so it is rare for a band to establish a dynamic sound on a debut. Nonetheless, Panic Movement is guaranteed to contain something that resonates with your inner teenage rocker.

If your heart is not in it, then please step aside