Photo: Noah Shephard
Arizona-based rock outfit Don’t Panic recently released their new album, 42, an eight-track collection of songs devoid of any genre boundaries, merging elements of indie-rock, pop, and prog-rock.
Made up of Dylan Rowe (vocals), Jeffrey Fred Robens, Jr. (guitar), and Ryan Obermeit (bass), Don’t Panic began as a side project between Robens and Rowe, while both were involved in other projects. In 2014, they released their EP, Dos Robot Circus, followed by 2015’s The Sleepy EP.
The album begins with “Conquer Divide,” opening on a sparkling piano flowing into gleaming guitars riding a tasty rhythm. Rowe’s delicious, evocative voice imbues the lyrics with gliding textures. It’s one of those sui generis voices full of delectable sonic nuances and plush phrasing.
Rowe describes the song as being “…about compassion, understanding, forgiveness, anger, hope, all of the vulnerable feelings critical to realize change.”
Highlights include “Eyes on Fire,” which ebbs on shimmering melodic passages and then rises to compact, heavy guitars. Rowe’s vocals take on slightly darker timbres, giving the lyrics shadowy, mystical colors.
Brimming with slicing alt-rock edges, “Drax” rolls out on thick, growling guitars, followed by descending to a thrumming melody riding finessed percussion. Rowe displays the range of her voice, from low and femme fatale-like to soaring and seething with dynamic energy.
A personal favorite because of Rowe’s vocals, dripping with passion and wistfulness, “Time Machine” shifts between melodic episodes and a full-spectrum, luscious wall-of-sound. Another gem, “Fly into the Sea,” kicks off on viscous guitars, dropping down to low-slung glittering hues. Once again, Rowe’s superb voice invests the song with tones at once elegant and fierce.
The final track, “Ninjas,” revolves around Rowe’s Siren-like vocals, at once portentous and laced with momentous hues. Rowe’s voice is what Hayley Williams wishes her voice was – it’s that good.
Sans a lackluster track, 42 delivers surging guitars, captivating melodies, and potent rhythms, all capped by the splendid voice of Dylan Rowe.