Panic! At The Disco is undoubtedly one of the biggest driving forces in pop rock today, but that can come with some undesired side effects. Now that Brendon Urie is the sole official member of the band, it seems he's really settled into one sound. Panic! At The Disco gets too comfortable in Pray For The Wicked, delivering solid tracks but sticking too close to the sound of their recent records to really sound fresh.
If one thing's for certain, it's that Brendon Urie's voice certainly hasn't weakened. If anything, after his Broadway run with Kinky Boots, he's more ready than ever to show it, and he certainly does in Pray For The Wicked. His voice really shines in lead single 'Say Amen (Saturday Night),' a dark anthem that really establishes the drama and drive of the record. The quieter verses lead to bombastic choruses where Urie lets his voice loose a bit more with brass backing to add an extra oomph to it. At the end, he hits a spectacular high note (fittingly portrayed in the music video as being delivered after a kick to the balls), giving a great look at his range. Closing track 'Dying In LA' is another track that really shows his vocal dynamic, but the piano and orchestral atmosphere doesn't quite lend itself to what Urie sings.
Pray For The Wicked is theatrical - as theatrical as you can get without actually being a Broadway recording. This comes with a problem, however. As much as Panic! At The Disco has always had a dramatic touch to their music, this feels entirely too much like it's trying to say "look at me, I'm Brendon Urie and I was on Broadway!" The music isn't intrinsically bad by any means (every song is solid), but it just feels overbearing at times. Opening track '(Fuck A) Silver Lining' brings the record to a big, theatrical start, but it does feel pretty busy. Other tracks like 'Hey Look Ma, I Made It' and 'Dancing's Not A Crime' are funky and punchy, but still fall short of really going somewhere. There are some great moments, though, like the Spanish vibe in 'Roaring 20s' and the nice, simple alternative drive on 'The Overpass.' Largely, though, Urie seems to sing miss the mark between Panic! and being in a musical.
Panic! At The Disco gets too comfortable in Pray For The Wicked, bringing in too many theatrical elements and not enough core sound to really make an impact. It's like if Death Of A Bachelor had more saxophones. A lot more saxophones. It's much more of a Brendon Urie solo record than it is a Panic! At The Disco record, but at this point, it begs the question: should we expect that to be one and the same from now on?
Favorite Tracks: Roaring 20s, Say Amen (Saturday Night), The Overpass
Least Favorite Track: Hey Look Ma, I Made It
Rating: 76 / 100
Stream or buy Pray For The Wicked on Apple Music, and follow our 2018 Playlist on Spotify: