Record Review - 3 December 30 2004
The distressing strum and jangle of Bloomington, Ind.,'s Panopoly Academy isn't one that's easily forgotten, even after the group has gone the way of the Dodo. Everything Here Was Built to Break is a collection of singles and non-album tracks that encapsulate a profound chunk of the group's most essential material spanning the late '90s and 2000. (When assembling the release, the songs sparked an old flame that brought the group back from the dead.) The album traces the group's myriad of ever-mutating monikers (e.g., Panopoly Glee Club, Corps of Engineers and Legionnaires). It harvests Panopoly's bleak rhythms and searing sonic scuffs into one definitive document.
Conceptually speaking, Panopoly draws comparisons to everyone from Pavement to Pere Ubu. In one instance, a song like "The Acquisition" swells with vocal melodies cultivated in the lo-fi '90s. The next, "Camp Keep the Quiet," thrives with goth-tinged doom and gloom. The group hasn't suffered so much from a personality crisis as from being ahead of its time. Vocalist Darin Glenn's whinnying vibrato cries out on an oppressive cover of Nick Drake's "Harvest Breed." It predates and devours Devendra Banhart's Tiny Tim impersonations. And the Rapture's schmaltzy pillaging of the Cure's catalog has nothing on the closing number, "We." But unlike the Rapture, Panopoly is much greater than the sum of its influences, forging a sonic territory where indie rock and avant-garde sounds form an honest and unbreakable connection.