More than just the exclamation mark changed over the past few years for Panic! At the Disco.
Panic’s first album, A Fever you Can’t Sweat Out, green lighted by Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz and created by all four original members, saw a high rise to fame in a relatively short period of time. It was pop music with an adolescent feel with songs like Lying is the Most Fun a Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off where Ryan Ross states he’s got “more wit, a better kiss, A hotter touch, a better fuck, Than any boy you’ll ever meet.” Needless to say, this album never grabbed my attention. The catchy songs didn’t feel like anything new or interesting.
Despite this, I really enjoyed Panic’s second album Pretty. Odd.. From the first song We’re so Starving, an obvious nod to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band, the whole album feels like an ode to classic rock wrapped in modern clothing.
Since the release of their last record Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die, all the original members of the band except lead vocalist Brandon Urie have left the band. This led some to believe that Urie might release his new material as a solo album, but the new album still carries the Panic! moniker. The album itself feels a bit like a pop amalgam of everything Urie is into right now.
From the very beginning, Death of a Bachelor seems like a return to the eclectic style of Panic’s original pop sensibilities. From the very first song, Victorious, Urie makes clear that this is a pop album with heavy synth in the vein of something like a modern Rob Thomas post Matchbox Twenty or Maroon 5. Furthering this thesis, the theatricality of songs on the record like LA Devotee and House of Memories feel like they are calling out for radio play. At it’s best, the title track Death of a Bachelor has an extremely catchy chorus with a wonderful R&B feel while Don’t Threaten me with a Good Time feels like a fun mix of classic crooning with a kind of Tom Jones feel while still maintaining a modern twist.
Interestingly, there is also a bit of Latin feel to songs like Emperor’s New Clothes and Crazy=Genius. I may be crazy, but as I listened to Emperor’s New Clothes, I could not help but think that Urie may have been listening to some Ricky Martin in preparation for the track whose verses and chorus I confused for living la vida loca. Crazy=genius feels like a fusion of Latin music with a tinge of punk thrown in there with a definite big band feel.
Many of the songs, especially Golden days, feel a bit derivative to a fault. In between lots of muted guitar with thoughts about summer, Urie even throws in the lyric “forever young” while the chorus feels like a catch that bands like Fun have already done (and, frankly, done it better). Nostalgic songs like these feel just a little bit too much like Urie is channeling his inner Rod Stewart without bringing anything fresh or new to the table. Urie continues his derivative works with Impossible Year – the proverbial last song ballad. Urie even starts the song with the over trodden metaphors of sunshine, clouds, and storms. I felt like I was listening to a less good “I’ll be Seeing you” without the Bing Crosby or Billie Holiday. It is no surprise then that I later read that Urie was very influenced by Sinatra on this latest album.
While there are plenty of catchy songs to compliment Urie’s wide vocal range, the album felt hit or miss for me with more misses than hits. It feels a bit like a step backwards for the band. This is more A Fever you Can’t Sweat Out than Pretty. Odd.