Quiet State of Panic
Paul Michel

STANDOUT TRACK: No. 4, “Wait,” a plaintive and terrifically catchy uptempo acousti-rocker that gives Michel’s angelic croon a chance to spread its wings. Listening to “Wait,” it’s easy to understand why the singer’s work is often filed under “If You Like Radiohead….” The song’s narrator sings about broken promises, feeling trapped in a relationship (“Back in Leavenworth you would pray that I’d wait”), and wanting one’s lover to understand why it’s over.

MUSICAL MOTIVATION: The narrator, though, isn’t Michel; it’s his ex. The song’s original title was “Wait (Through Her Eyes),” and Michel, 29, tries to see their painful breakup—which inspired both the song and the album—from her perspective. “It’s prison as a metaphor for a relationship. She felt like she was trapped with me; she wanted to escape, and I had no clue that this was going on,” he says. Despite the sad tinge, it’s the record’s poppiest tune.

The dust has settled, and the drama has passed, but Michel insists there are no hard feelings. “She’s aware that the song is about her. I’m still good friends with her, and also with her boyfriend, actually.” Yikes! Does he talk to her about the music? “Well, as an artist, you don’t want to know all the details of how people respond. It’s definitely a little weird for her, and all of our friends, to know exactly what went down. She’s really cool, though. Even her mom heard the record knowing everything we went through.” And what did Mom think? “I don’t know exactly,” he says. “My ex never told me. I’m sure she was cool about it.