The Vulgar Boatmen – Please Panic

What I Think of When I Think of This Artist (part 2)

There is a third Vulgar Boatmen studio album (Opposite Sex) that, predictably, was never released in the U.S. In 2003, the Boatmen released a collection of tracks from all three albums, with some other flotsam. The Indianapolis Boatmen normally play a January show in Chicago, which I have seen once and missed once, and which I hope to see again once we actually enter a post-pandemic phase.

What I Think of This Album

First of all, props for the excellent album title. Second, this is at least as good as the debut. Sometimes I get misled because I don’t care for the first song here (not coincidentally, it is the one song not by the Dale Lawrence-Robert Ray team), but that just means I am impatient and stupid.

This is a great album to drink a bottle of wine and develop a rough outline for suicide to. A collection of careful, thoughtful, beguiling, and heartfelt songs, Please Panic is all about unappealing choices, resignation, broken hearts, and the far off horizon. And yet. And yet, songs like “You Don’t Love Me Yet,” “I’m Not Stuck On You,” “You’re the One,” and “Alison Says” (which works up a nice Velvets/Feelies churn) betray that glimmer of hope that we normally don’t dare acknowledge, because that sort of thinking is really fucking risky. Of course, those are the saddest songs of all (even if they don’t know it).

There is a gorgeous viola – played by Helen Kirklin, spouse of Ray – on several tracks (most notably, on the wonderful “There’s a Family”), and the guitar interplay is excellent. I don’t know – this is probably enjoyable even for people who are not profoundly depressed.

The Best Thing About This Album

“You Don’t Love Me Yet”

Release Date

February, 1992

The Cover Art

Hmmm. No. I don’t like anything about this.

56 thoughts on “The Vulgar Boatmen – Please Panic

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