This is really good. I mean REALLY GOOD. This second album from The Shelleye Valauskas Experience, History Of Panic, which is anchored by singer-guitarist Ms. Valausakas and Mr. Dean Falcone on second guitar, took almost a decade to make and release, but it’s damned well worth the wait. Ten perfectly, meticulously crafted power pop (emphasis on “power”) tracks that shimmer and shine. The sound of the album is top notch, having been produced by Mr. Falcone, who has quite the producer’s ear and among the many players who helped shape and drive sound would be legendary drummer Dave Mattacks (most notably, for the uneducated, the long-time drummer for the equally-legendary Fairport Convention) and Jonathan Auer, of The (beloved) Posies and (of course), Big Star (the ’90’s edition onward). Everyone who contributed to this album created a very special collection.
The album explodes in the best possible way with “Do Over”, which just kicks from the first raging chords, into a Raspberries/’70’s sound storm which immediately goes clean pop, with a catchy chorus and tight harmonies; “Over The Top” is low-voltage, again, harmony-laden and hooky. I hear a lot of influences here: some (as mentioned) Rasperries/Big Star/Posies/dB’s/slight R.E.M. – and it works. “Gravity” especially has a dB’s (or Chris Stamey) type of feel; a sweet and lush piece with swirling guitars and melody that instantly draws you in – this should be on every radio. “Leftover Mistake” comes charging forward with fiery guitars and intensity, in that early ’80’s radio-friendly way and again, you can’t help but tap a foot to this, with its upbeat tempo; “Options” is the country-pop piece, which is a perfect fit on this album – sweeping, yearning pedal steel runs, acoustic guitars and on-the-one and “Take It Back” sounds like an amalgam of Velvets/Big Star, circa “3rd” and R.E.M. when they slowed down – a twang-filled, gentle moment that satisfies on every level.
And that’s the key thing – it satisfies on every level. The entire album. So I don’t need to carry on further with hyperbole – it’s very simple. Listen to this and tell me you’re not instantly in love with it. It’s impossible to not be.
History Of Panic is currently available