Mary Broadcast has got plenty of her credit for her incredible singing in years past, but I think that the release of her new EP Panic is likely to bring even more attention to her conceptualism as an artist. Panic isn’t just a stab at progressive aesthetics – it’s an all-out foray into the progressive pop genre as assembled for a Gen Z audience, and apart from rejecting the pomp that has usually made its way into the fold for a venture of this kind, she sticks to the script and makes it feel like her own from beginning to end.
There’s nothing conventional about the way the tracklist for Panic plays out, but at the same time, I would be lying if I said that there wasn’t a real smoothness to the way these songs are stacked together. The emotional narrative behind the title track bleeds into “Zone 4” and “Bastille” effortlessly, making the first half of the record sound like more of a complete piece than three different songs that have been piled together on an EP. Thoughtfulness is the key to success in any genre, but I think a release like this one reminds us how pivotal it is to making smart pop music these days.
Broadcast’s commentary on love via “Sing It” is deeply scathing depending on how you want to break down its lyrical trappings, but we find some balance beforehand in “Bastille” that makes the sharpest of its daggers sound rather on-point with what the musical backdrop has to offer us emotionally. There’s a flipside to just about every statement this player wants to make in Panic, but this isn’t an example of poetic hypocrisy; rather, I think this showcases the duality she’s working with (and how little some of her more-hyped rivals feature in their content).
In the moments where Mary Broadcast is coming across as profoundly self-critical, like in the title cut and “Bazar,” for example, there is no request for pity from her listeners. Instead, I get a sense of venting in tracks like these and “Aver” that is meant to be an extension of comradery more than anything else, rejecting the concept of wallowing in misery in favor of learning from retrospection, which isn’t something I’m hearing from a lot of other pop songwriters dealing in the same sort of darkness this artist is in her latest release.
It is more than fair to say that Mary Broadcast went out on a creative limb when creating Panic for its 2022 release, but I think her gamble has rewarded her excellently. This is an adventure away from the predictable elements in pop music that a lot of her closest fans have been turning away from for the better part of their generation, and to me, Panic is representative of how deep Broadcast can go without having to abandon all of the basic charms that have got her career this far. She’s still got more in the war chest, and that’s clear from start to finish in this EP.