It all began in the city of Tours, France when Emeline Fougeray (bass) met Mogan Cornebert (drums) during a music course. They started to jam together and at a local session met vocalist and guitarist Yacine Aït Amer who took to their duo like a duck to water. Add singer Marie Moreau and you have the prog-rock meets alt-rock foursome Panem.
The primary concept behind Panem’s music can be easily explained when looking at the origin of the name. Panem is from the Latin phrase ‘panem et circenses’ meaning bread and games or circuses – an expression denouncing the egotism of the Roman emperors. Instead of fawning over the leaders, this was a deliberate attempt to detract from the aristocracy by distributing bread and organising games for commoners attracting the benevolence of the masses – a sort of “fun day protest”. Panem’s latest single to express their opinion is ‘Breathe, Pretender’.
The follow up to their well-received debut single ‘Zeitgeist/Absolute Monotony’, ‘Breathe, Pretender’ is four minutes of Fleetwood Mac meets Skunk Anansie. An insightful and rather unconventional group, Panem touch on issues of victimisation and abusive relationships. Known for strong and seemingly controversial narratives, ‘Breathe, Pretender’ is an emotionally stirring song about a victim confronting her abuser who is not even aware of his behaviour being abusive.
Lyrically, the track is perceptive with a degree of sensitivity, but it is the sonic aspect that brings out the aggression and empowerment in the song. An intriguing element is the combination of smooth and flowing sound with edgy rock in the chorus. Bringing her Stevie Nicks meets Lzzy Hale vocals, Moreau embodies the anger and rage behind the concept of self-liberation. Bold, perceptive and insightful, Panem is the catharsis that we all need in this time of uncertainty and confusion.