Panther’s debut album Secret Lawns continues what the 2006 Yourself EP introduced: Charlie Salas-Humara, aka Panther, crooning, squealing, twisting and shaking over spliced-and-tortured electronic, yet organic, grooves. Somewhere inside this music is straight-up blue-eyed soul—hints of classic song structure and yearning ballad-singing peek around corners throughout— but it’s been stretched, sliced and danced over, in a very next-millennium (and Northwestern, and Fryk Beat-ian) way, by a true eccentric not quite in step with the times. It’s a quick album, but filled with individual style. On “How Does It Feel?” I think I hear him call that style “mechanic soul”; whether he does or doesn’t, that description works. Within Panther’s music are doses of Prince’s ambiguity and androgyny and Trent Reznor’s angry, mechanical futurism. And like both of those artists, his approach is do-everything-yourself. While some songs stand out—“You Don’t Want Your Nails Done” for its strange percussive structure, “Rely on Scent” for how it resembles him trying to give a survival lecture over random organ sounds—the unique feeling and style of Panther is the main impression left.
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