Panic! At The Disco has had a long adventure. Now consisting solely of one main member (Brendon Urie), their musical direction is the product of a single individual’s intentions. Every album of theirs has had some sort of niche too it. Their debut, A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out, gave root to their classic emo/alternative rock fanbase. Pretty. Odd. brought in baroque elements with a pop and rock touch, while 2011′s Vices & Virtues came with a more polished, arena-rock alternative rock sound. 2013′s Too Weird To Live, To Rare To Die saw them edge closer into pop rock and electronic rock. Their latest effort, Death Of A Bachelor continues the pop rock evolution, edging even further away from the rock sound, Urie taking over this album and making it his own.
Admittedly, given the album’s singles, I wasn’t entirely sure to expect from the album. There was a good bit of variation. Brass-led anthem “Hallelujah” took some getting used to, and the Fall Out Boy-esque “Victorious” didn’t initially solidify with me (though, for some reason, the latter of the two sounds much grander and epic on the album - perhaps it’s just me, but it feels more in place in the context of the opening track of the album than a standalone single). The slow ballad “Death Of A Bachelor”, the title track, also took some getting used to - it feels like a rockier version of a Sam Smith song. “LA Devotee” - this album’s take on Thirty Seconds To Mars’ “City Of Angels” - is a tribute to the city of Los Angeles, a trend that has become ever more popular as of late. Another track that took some growing to appreciate. There’s nothing that dragged the track down, per se, just the number of city tributes in music as of late seems to be making the theme somewhat saturated. After a few listens, the song has definitely improved like the white wine Urie praises in the chorus. “Emperor’s New Clothes” was what I needed for the prospect of a new Panic! album built solely by the mind of Brendon Urie to catch my attention. The haunting track (complete with a very ominous music video) has the same spooky pop and rock appeal seen in Vices & Virtues track, “Let’s Kill Tonight”, but on a grander scale. The backing vocals, chanting “Finder’s keepers / loser’s weepers” is a bit cliché, to put it nicely, but the rest of the track makes up for it. The final pre-released track, “Don’t Threaten Me With A Good Time” was another solid track, though nothing about it stood out in particular. Just a standard, feel good, Panic! rock track.
Beyond the singles, the second half of the album is chock-packed with some surprises. “Crazy=Genius” brings a jungle beat into the mix, with the guitars finally being brought back up into the song. The use of brass sections in the background of the band’s music really shines in this track, bringing it back to the big band scene of the 30′s and 40′s. The percussion on this track is disjointed, yet not too the point where you have to stay confused about it for too long. “Golden Days” is the feel-good rock track this album needed in its second half. It almost sounds like Urie’s take on Muse’s “Revolt”, a song that served a similar function on their album, Drones. The song itself has a subtle lo-fi feeling to it, which keeps it from being just another rock song. The brass section adds a good bit of color to the song, too. “The Good, The Bad and The Dirty” begins with the vocal progression that almost sounds like Björk, but evolves into an arena-pop rock sound with a sweet atmosphere surrounding it, almost to a very refined U2 sound. “House Of Memories” has a sweet melody and great lyrics that evolve into a massive chorus with a arena-filling voice. The bridge to the end has Urie taking over the track, and, while not being as grand as some parts of the album, is perhaps one of his most defining moments on the album. The huge sing-a-long part will definitely be a huge live moment, too. The closing track is the Queen-esque “Impossible Year”, a soulful piano ballad that has Urie bring his takeover to an epic conclusion. The trumpets and accompanying brass add to the grandiose of the track. While still being gorgeously huge, the track is largely subtle, not going over the top and dramatic á la Muse’s The Resistance, but still captures the theatrical finality the album needed to close out.
Panic! At The Disco, (or at this point, should we just say Brendon Urie?) has not fallen any short of an epic new album to kick off the new year. With grand brass accompanying huge rock instrumentals with a pop twang, Panic! followed up their 2013 effort with flying colors. Soaring above what the expectations he faced, Urie showed that he can take over any project he so desires, and owned it to the extreme. 2016 might just be Panic! At The Disco’s year.
Favorite Tracks: Emperor’s New Clothes, Golden Days, House Of Memories, Victorious
Least Favorite Tracks: Crazy=Genius, Death Of A Bachelor