PHOTO COURTESY ipr.com
Story by Connor Dirksen, Reporter
You may remember Panic! At The Disco as the emo heartthrob from 2005’s A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out, or the Beatles-imitators from 2008’s Pretty. Odd., but if you’ve followed the band’s activity since, you would notice only one pattern: change makes itself no stranger to their work.
Their latest release, Death Of A Bachelor (released January 15 on Fueled by Ramen/DCD2), follows gloriously in suit. Of the original four members, only frontman Brendon Urie remains. Pushing his musical artistry to new limits, he acted as the sole musician behind the recording of the album, recording every instrument and vocal track (except for the horns).
The albums opens with “Victorious,” an EDM-infused ode to hedonistic debauchery, likely drawing from Urie’s own experiences since “making it” in the music industry. In an immediate response, “Don’t Threaten Me With A Good Time” chronicles his morning after singing, “Who are these people? I just woke up in my underwear,” a confusion matched musically with the juxtaposition of the sampled guitar riff from The B52s’ hit “Rock Lobster” and a classic hip-hop style drum beat complete with a generic crew repeatedly shouting, “Hey!”
Urie’s almost-apologetic attitude comes to light with “Hallelujah,” a secular dedication to admitting and owning your mistakes. In “Emperor’s New Clothes,” Urie sings of the brazen ambition he now faces with complete creative control. “I’m all dressed up and naked, I see what’s mine and take it,” he declares, as background characters of his creation scream with a sneer, “Finders keepers, losers weepers.”
A rift in time opens for “Death Of A Bachelor,” a song effectively described by Urie as blending Sinatra and Beyoncé, and “Crazy=Genius,” a song sounding straight out of swing jazz, which plays with the popular idea of the tortured artist. The former eulogizes Urie’s bachelor lifestyle while the latter laments his own reasonable sanity (“You’re just like Mike, love, but you want to be Brian Wilson”).
The album returns to the present with “LA Devotee,” a song responding to Urie’s move from his hometown of Las Vegas to the celebrity lifestyle he found in Los Angeles. “Golden Days” takes a musical turn to the danceable pop-punk roots of Panic!’s early days, the lyrical matter of which sends regards to those same early days. “The Good, The Bad, and The Dirty” looks at the past again, this time without rose-tinted glasses and without the same flair which drives the rest of the record. “House of Memories” leaves an equally lacking impression, with a chorus of “Whoa” ready for pop radio.
The album closes on a bittersweet note with “Impossible Year.” Urie channels his best Sinatra impression through a mellow ballad, singing of “storms full of sorrow that won’t disappear.”
Fans who haven’t heard a song from Panic! since Fever, those who have followed the band closely with every release, and even music fans unfamiliar with the band’s work are all likely to find something they love about the album. Forgiving a few lackluster moments, Death Of A Bachelor plays more like a celebration of new life rather than mourning at a funeral. Powerhouse vocals and pulsating beats prove nothing puts Panic! to rest permanently.