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4.3 out of 5 stars
Skin
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 22 July 2012
The excellent Welsh band have released another good album with their new one Skin, which I pre-ordered from the band's website. The album cover perfectly conveys the music that escapes this dark little jewell. This album is further proof of the collective skills of the band and it is intriguing to see how they have developed away from their debut album Visionary Position. The new album is a more cohesive set than their opening album - which is how it should be I suppose. Though I do sometimes miss the epicness of that album's closing track The Dreaming - I wonder if the band will ever try something like that again?

Song for tomorrow kicks the cd off with the band in good form - Anne-Marie's vocals as strong as ever. It's a postitive start - though not quite as good as the previous album's opener - Freedom to breathe. Chameleon and Screens follow, both good efforts with the latter's energy a welcome contrast to other material on display here. The low point of the album for me, in sharp contrast to what other reviewers have said, is Chances. I find it a very lucklustre effort. I find the chours slightly irritating - though many others have described it as catchy. The song's not helped by the singer's declaration that "She's given more than a woman can give." Umm - not one that will be making its way onto my ipod.

Things quickly pick up again for the atmospheric tracks Tightrope Walking and, in particular, Velvet and stars which is stripped down (very effectively)to guitar and vocals. This is followed by my favourite song on the album, Freefalling. It's describing a parachute experience I believe. It boasts an easy, flowing rhythm and has a lightness of touch that contrasts with the mood of much of the album.

The title track Skin is another successful track, excellent vocals, but again not quite the equal of its counterpart Satellite - the brilliant title track from the previous album - which I believe is the best of their three albums to date. The album closer, Nocturnal has another winning vocal performance. The verse are simple, evocative - though not sure if the chorus quite does the song justice. The song climaxes with a winning blend of guitar, strings and vocals - ending the album on a high.

Good stuff as usual from the band. What stops this one from being a five star effort (for me) is that it lacks the dynamism that was so evident on their previous effort. Furthermore, Satellite had songs like Sunshine and I am the cat (not for everyone's taste!) that offered the listener a bit of humour and relief from the album's darker pieces. This one can occasionally be just a little too over-wrought at times for my tastes. But overall, Skin is still a very strong album which is further proof of what a talented band they are and comes highly recommended. But for someone wanting to try Panic Room out, I'd recommend Satellite first.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 11 July 2012
My impression is that Panic Room write & record in a quiet place looking out over rolling landscapes, seas & big skies. For me these are the kind of places it is best listened to; or with a glass of red wine in a quiet evening. It is a very clean sound, with excellent musicianship & sublime vocals. I wouldn't take too much notice of the prog rock label - it's a long way off Yes & Genesis. I occasionally yearn for a bit of volume from the keyboards, more guitar...a bit more bombast. I don't think they have peaked yet. I'm prepared to wait a little...
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
This is Panic Room's third album, and now perhaps at last they can emerge from the shadow cast by Karnataka. I do not have a great deal more to add to the initial review of this recording. There is no doubt that almost from his live debut with the band Yatim Halimi has helped the band gel into a cohesive unit that was not always evident for the previous three years. Anne-Marie is in better form (hard for a long-time fan to credit) - and the rest of the band are simply superb.

After a week of listening I can only say that this is one of the best CDs I have heard: subtle, original and interesting. If you have an ear for good music, you should buy this - and make an effort to see this band live.
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on 7 July 2012
This is a real masterpiece! Panic Room just keep getting better and now are poised to turn heads in more rock circles than previously. This is a superb cd full of well crafted songs, beautifully played and magnificently sung. Many of the songs build to a climax that isn't necessarily loud but suits the mood and purpose expertly.
I pre-ordered this cd - it arrived a week ago and I have been unable to remove it from whichever cd player I am nearest to! At first I was bowled over by 'Chameleon' and 'Chances' then after a few more listens 'Song for tomorrow' began to work it's magic, now I love it all.
Panic Room are the sort of band we need, so please buy the cd and listen to it! There is an upsurge in interest in real music at last in the uk, we need to nurture this and appreciate it like they do in other parts of Europe!
By the time anyone reads this I will have seen them live in Poole and will no doubt have been entranced by the music and the vocal charm of Anne-Marie Helder. Catch them while you can, you won't regret it!
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 26 June 2012
We've had it for a week played it non stop. What an album!!!
The first album "Visionary Position" was good with some outstanding tracks. The second album moved up a gear, containing some stunning songs. Now this one is taking things to another level.
The album opener, "Song for Tomorrow" has been a regular in their live set for quite a while. It starts quite slowly and then kicks in with some superb guitar, relaxes for the verse and then hits you between the eyes with the chorus. Instantly memorable. Great start.
Chameleon follows. A beautiful song which ends with some great interplay between Jonathan Edwards on keyboards and Paul Davies on guitar - a bit jazz, a bit Steely Dan.
Screens is the third track. The intro is provided by the Larkin Quartet, all refined strings. Then the synth riff kicks in. And what a riff - huge. The baseline (take a bow Yatim Halimi) on this interweaves with the keyboard to great effect. A very current song about the way that different "screens" can effect our lives. Another awesome song.
Chances would make a great single. Incredibly catchy with lyrics which are very heartfelt.
Tightrope Walking is a rhythmic masterpiece which developes through several sections and features all the musicians creating a totally unique track.
Promises is another one that has been played live quite a bit. On the CD a gentle guitar intro is overtaken by the string quartet palying the main riff. The track builds through the verse to a memorable, insistant chorus. There are guitar and keyboard solos, another spot-on bass line, all driven along by Gavin Griffiths powerhouse drumming. All this is topped by Anne-Marie Helders sublime vocals.
Velvet and Stars gives everyone a chance to get their breath back. Acoustic guitar and voice produce a shimmering, beautiful song.
Freefalling has as catchy an acoustic guitar / bass riff as you are ever going to hear. Simple but so effective. The band weave in and out of each other creating another world of peace, calm and beauty.
The title track Skin is a song that grows and develops from a simple keyboard figure into something epic. A fantastic song with a lyric that is meant and felt. The chorus is so poignant. I defy you not to be moved. The guitar part at the end totally changes the mood of the song but fits so well.
The penultimate track is Hiding The World. This is for me, at the moment (because I keep changing my mind) the standout track. The guitar riff at the beginning is masterful and then the band kicks in and settles into a killer groove. Like lots of the songs it develops, changes, always keeping the listener interested and then the chorus takes over - and what a chorus. A kick ass track.
The album closes with Nocturnal. if I was going to compare it to another song I would think Freebird as it devlops and builds into an almighty crescendo with yet another excellent, fitting guitar solo.
All in all, the best album I have heard this year (and I have heard a lot).
If you are looking for an album of great songs with grown up lyrics played by excellent musicians who use the music to support the song then this is for you.
The band are so inventive, gentle, rocky and tight. The interplay and support for each other is wonderful and yet each produces sections of individual brillance throughout the album.
If you haven't got this - buy it now - you will not be disappointed.
If you haven't been to see them live - get to one of their gigs. The live experience is something else.
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on 29 September 2012
I bought this after hearing 'The Gathering Light' by Karnataka and reading that Panic Room was a band formed by ex-members. On first hearing, the album begins and ends in similar territory to Karnataka, with some strong and rocky tracks. Inbetween though,it explores much more diverse musical territory, showing the band seem to be much more about songwriting than worrrying about sticking to any tight pigeonhole in terms of progressive rock. I quickly decided the singer sounds like a cross between Natalie Imbruglia and Andrea Corr - fortunataly both singers I like. 'Tightrope Walking' is probably my favourite track in bunch of well=written and well-crafted songs. I have no idea if this album is largely representative of other Panic Room material but very I'm happy to try and check out other of their albums in the future.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 7 September 2012
Having played 'Satellite' over and over, as well as 'VP', and, deciding that Panic Room's version of 'Bitches Crystal' knocks spots off of the original, I was anticipating the new release to be more of the same, that is, a vibrant mix of indie, prog, jazz, folk and soul and then......I put it on whilst driving (which is where I listen to most of my albums) and it had reached Track 10 before I realised that I could not recall ANY of the previous 9 tracks, as they were all so, well, bland!

Ok, we all want our favourite artists to achieve the impossible, that is, "bring us more of the same please" mixed with "but wow me with something stunning that I was not expecting - please?" - this unfortunately, so far, is neither.

I usually find 2 or 3 tracks are stand out on the first play, with the rest being, yeah, pretty good, and then the whole thing grows with repeated plays.

So I am hoping against hope that 'Skin' is a real slow burning fuse, that begins to get 'under the skin' as I listen again.

If you are a diehard fan, you will already have the album by now anyway, but for anyone else new to Panic Room for the first time, or checking them out, this is not representative of their best (in my opinion which after all is my subjective view), but hey, you pays your money....

Less comfortable please guys for the next album let's mix it up a bit.....
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on 26 December 2014
This album gets a five star rating from me, the line up that makes this band up is quite an impressive one to say the least, all talented musicians, although by some of the reviews left hear I think some have been viewing to many TV talent show or simply have no music knowledge other than UK pop music, sarcasm aside, can not fault a single track on this album, Anne Marie Helders, vocals are as good as ever, and she fits in with all the popular female vocalist of the moment quite well, recommend you give this album a listen if you like good music and good vocals and are not looking to hear the next big pop hit.
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on 27 March 2013
I recently received a flyer from The Stables at Milton Keynes advertising a gig there for Panic Room. So i gave them a listen and thought wow they were really good. I am a big fan of Mostly Autumn and this is a very similar style of music, but i feel a bit more laid back. I cannot really compare it to their previous albums as i have yet to hear them. But i have not stopped playing it since downloading it. The last track Nocturnal is outstanding. Give it a try.I shall certainly look into their other albums ...Steve
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 28 June 2012
I can't praise this album highly enough. It is at once stirring, beautiful, powerful, intense and catchy. An extremely difficult combination to pull off, but one Panic Room have a knack of. Like all good prog, there's great depth to the music and songs grow on you over time, as you catch the background layers of complexity. However, unlike a lot of prog, this album is immediately accessible as the song writing is so powerful.
If you are even vaguely interested in modern rock music, you should buy this now, and then get a ticket to see them. Really - you'll thank me later!
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