Uses For Humans

Saint Petersburg, Florida is really having an artistic awakening. You can see it just driving around the downtown area. The walls are covered with bright, strange and wonderful murals. The 600 block of Central Avenue is dotted with thriving music clubs and the venerable State Theatre. In the Warehouse Arts District, there are quirky galleries and arts studios. The electronic pop bands, Panamory are a part of the Burg’s artistic flowering.

Panamory are Dave the Day on guitar, Doug Katez on violin and vocalist/programmer Lauren Lance (who also performs techno ritual music under the name Lilith). The trio experiments with meshing electro beats, samples and live instruments to create emotionally powerful tunes about coming of age and self discovery amid the alienation and uncertainty of the Internet age. Uses For Humans is Panamory’s debut album.

“Swipe Right” is the tent pole of the record. The title, of course, refers to Tinder and other dating sites. Lauren sings about faking being things she’s not to impress someone. Guest rappers DEA and Saint give personification of men and women dealing with the insincerity of online relationships. Variations on this theme play out on other songs. Lauren voices the anguish of societal expectations on “Adolescence”. She wails, “God, I wish I could make it stop,” over and over while fighting against other people’s expectations. Lolita finds Lauren channeling the spirit of Kate Bush. The ill-fated literary romance of Bush’s “Wuthering Heights” is replaced by Panamory with Nabokov’s obsessive abuse. Katez soaring violin lends the track an appropriately gothic feel.

Panamory also have a video/single out called “Cara Mia”. The track opens with an organ swell, suggesting the Phantom of the Opera’s underground lair and rides on a staccato techno beat. The lyric explores the dynamics of a BDSM relationship. The video probably shouldn’t be played on your work computer. While not showing any naughty bits, the video is explicitly about sexual adventures in bondage, voyeurism, submission, masochism, same sex play. Of course, the tune is capped off with the repeated phrase, “Oh don’t you know that we play for pleasure?” Well, of course, what else would you expect from the panamorous?

Cara Mia:

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