Death Of A Bachelor marks Panic! At The Disco’s first album with only one official member. Before this album, I have to admit to being unaware of the revolving door that seemed to be constantly turning in the Panic! dressing room, but disputes over musical style have left vocalist Urie as the only official current member of the band from the original four founding members. However, this has not haltered the band’s success, and this album has been their most successful so far, reaching the top spot in the Top 200 Billboard albums chart above artists such as Adele and Justin Bieber.
Panic! At The Disco are a band I have enjoyed for a while now. I distinctly remember hearing the guitar-driven chorus of The Ballad Of Mona Lisa on the radio when it was released as a single and instantly I was hooked. It was rock, but not as I knew it. It was quirky, different. It appealed to the mid-teens version of myself that wanted to rebel a little, but not so much as to turn my parents and family against me.
So why are the current emo/pop-rock lovers of America enjoying this album so much? On first listening, this is a quintessentially PATD-style album. Slightly heavier than mainstream rock, Urie has continued the tradition of big choruses and energetic songs, while making it all a bit weird. The album opens with a bang. Victorious, Don’t Threaten Me With A Good Time, and Hallelujah are all loud, energetic songs, and from the start Urie hits his typical high, wailing notes. There is an infectious positivity emanating from the sound, and it doesn’t stop after Victorious.
Don’t Threaten Me With A Good Time takes the riff from the B-52’s Rock Lobster, and throws it into a pool of bouncy PATD madness. The familiar style of quieter verses leading to high intensity choruses accompanies Urie’s ode to drunken nights, which include “champagne, cocaine, gasoline and most things in between”. Hallelujah was the first track from the album to be announced, and was released as a single last April. Once more the chorus is full of different sounds, including a heavy use of brass - a theme throughout the album.
Emperor’s New Clothes follows and is once more a typical Panic! song. Opening with a weird vocal effect, a bass driven verse leads into an animated chorus full of long Urie cries. An angry-mob-style interlude breaks up the latter part of the song before Urie comes back in. The next track is arguably one of the best from the album. Death Of A Bachelor opens with strings being electronically jumbled, before traversing into a Sinatra-esque tune. The electronic drums are a constant reminder of the 21st century in a song that otherwise, could be decades old. The middle verse is comically brilliant in its resemblance, and I can almost imagine Urie in an old-school American bar, crooning away with a smile. The latter part of the track returns to modernity as Urie shows off some seriously high notes.
Meanwhile, in what is an apparent spite at the stereotypical views and features of one living in Los Angeles, LA Devotee is bouncy, the tune infectious. One of my picks from the album, the breakdown is menacing, before the key changes and another chorus blasts out.
Towards the end of the album comes Impossible Year, one of my favourite tracks; it’s completely unexpected and contrasts hugely to the rest of the album. Once again seemingly paying tribute to Sinatra, the song opens softly, with piano, strings and brass. The tone is sad and desolate, and Urie softly sings “There’s no sunshine this impossible year”. The mood remains sombre as Urie moves through the song, his voice traversing from soft low croons to powerful highs to a massively long theatrical note at the end. It ends on a long unresolved note that typifies the emotion of the song perfectly, and perhaps gives an insight to Urie’s inner thoughts at the slow breaking apart of the band.
Overall, this is a decent album. Over the years Panic! At The Disco have managed to create a truly original sound and style, and much of this sticks to that. Personally, I would have liked one or two more songs that challenge this style a bit more, but I can’t fault the songs that have been produced, nor Urie’s voice, which may be one of the best out there in current popular music.