Panic Pocket are ostensibly riven from the same cloth as ’90s riot grrrl bands like Bratmobile or Bikini Kill, with girls-to-the-front vibes and acerbic lyrics. But there’s a quintessential Britishness about them that actually places them closer to the sardonic sophisti-pop of Everything But The Girl or the simple, sugary melodies of the Postcard Records roster. There are smooth piano lines and drawling vocals here that you’d never get from 7 Year Bitch.
The arrangements are low-key, and often lo-fi, but it sounds like a band having a laugh as they take down performative feminists (‘Still The Bad Guy’), DM chancers (‘Out Of The Woodwork’), Instagram fakes (‘I’ve Earned My Right To Be Pretty’) or trash men (basically every song). The bile is measured with humour and absurdism (see: the frog emoji on ‘Out Of The Woodwork’) which keeps the doomster cynicism at bay when you’d forgive them for getting down about the sorry state of the world. ‘Mr. Big’ basically straight-up nicks the riff from ‘Teenage Kicks’ on a song all about Sex and the City, but it’s never not catchy and with a line as well delivered as “a vibrator doesn’t call you up and wish you happy birthday / …but who likes phone calls anyway?” all is forgiven.
Mad Half Hour doesn’t purport to startling originality, but that doesn’t feel like the point here. These classic ingredients (terrible men, repetitive chords and witty, shout-along choruses) have been recycled endlessly, but the ability of Panic Pocket to make them fun instead of tiresome is testament to a great skill. Or maybe it shouldn’t be as surprising that as people (men) continue to disappoint in whole new ways, the cliches about them would continue to evolve.