The Los Angeles-based hard rock band Million Dollar Mouth channel groups including The Clash, Alice in Chains, and Radiohead (vocalist Mike Biscotti even sounds a bit like Thom Yorke), while giving a nod to less obvious influences such as Lenny Kravitz, Dire Straits, and The Cars. Heavy, grungy guitar and bass anchor most tracks, with keyboards and drum adding texture; the sound varies from distorted and harsh on “1-4-3” to echoing and expansive, as on “Space Out.” Biscotti often chant-sings the lyrics, but occasionally, as on “Second Skin,” his voice veers into a beautiful falsetto. Keyboardist Mary S., guitarist Vanja Andrin, bassist 80, and drummer Kris Keane provide solid musicianship with occasional surprises.
Among the standouts on The Panicking is “Lush.” While still guitar-heavy, it’s also inherently danceable and more melodic than the other tunes on the disc, with a great refrain and catchy hook. The tight rhythms of “Keep It To Yourself” and the sardonic delivery of the verses compliment the lyrics: “Stop giving away the secret/nobody cares.” Gentle drumming and a lilting, drawn-out vocal delivery distinguish “Pretty,” and the more you listen to the song, the more the odd rhythms stick in your head, with the radical change of tempo from verse to refrain also giving the number some kick.
Million Dollar Mouth doesn’t tread any new ground, but the group borrows elements from other successful acts and blends them to make a satisfying album.