REVIEW: PANAMA - "Hope for Something" EP

Since the breakout Always EP of 2013, the Sydney synth-pop outfit of Panama have cultivated a wide ranging and substantial following numerous tours and spots across national radio. Now their third EP Hope for Something is out via Future Classic, the band have expanded upon their typically moving and heartfelt writing.

Opening with the title track ‘Hope for Something’, it’s an upbeat track that’s immediately inspiring. Echoing sounds of earlier single ‘Always’, ‘Hope for Something’ is an optimistic and uplifting song that will immediately lift your spirits. Frontman Jarrah McCleary speaks of the track saying “This song was a bit like therapy for me as it helped me resolve some things I had been holding on to for a very long time. Writing it was like self-talk.”

This idea of self-talk flows into the next track ‘I Watched You Slip’, which keeps the same dance sensabilities, but lyrically shifts in down a notch. Much more cautious than the preceding track, McCleary warns himself about making the same mistakes as before while still holding some distinctively funky filling.

‘The Highs’ quickly changes gears, moving from a sombre piano anthem in its opening to a tropical jam by way of Jamie xx. Again, the lyrics speak of a deeply personal yet universally experienced relationship troubles. ‘Undertow’ is another deep track, delving into the loss of someone close and attempting to make that person last forever. This track is especially theatrical in nature – a big, bold chorus, with McCleary’s melancholic lyrics laid bare against the heaving pop anthem.

These deeply personal stories informed much of the EP, as they have done in previous Panama releases. While McCleary speaks of “a fine line between truth and poetry” is his writing, this line frequently becomes blurry as McCleary utilises these universally experienced events to bring a much more substantive emotional weight to these tracks. ‘Your Love (Lift Us Up)’ rounds out the EP, and finishes in a similar way to how it began. A rich, soothing arrangement with wonderfully deep lyrics that are looking forward to a better tomorrow.

Panama’s latest EP is an aching tribute to the trials and tribulations of being in a deep and loving relationship. Whether its familial or romantic doesn’t matter, McCleary’s writing is deeply personal and confessional – something that everyone can understand. Each track is bursting at the seams with an unavoidable energy however, that leaves you with an outwardly optimistic view of what the future can hold despite anything that may’ve occurred. 

Written by: James Johnston