It’s time to Panic (At The Disco, that is)!
Panic! At The Disco has always been a band that is constantly reinventing itself and this mentality has not changed with the release of their fifth studio album on January 15th, 2016. The album, titled Death of a Bachelor, features frontman Brendon Urie taking on a more prominent role in the band. This new record has been receiving high praise, causing fans everywhere to stand up and sing, “Hallelujah!”
As the last remaining original member of the group, Urie tackled the recording and production solo (for the most part), playing nearly every instrument that is heard on the album. Because of the additional creative liberty that comes with working alone, the 28-year-old vocalist was able to let all of his musical influences shine through. Largely inspired by Queen and Frank Sinatra, Death of a Bachelor is an dynamic addition to the Panic! At The Disco discography.
Swear to shake it up
Things have changed for Panic! At The Disco, but that’s okay. Over their 10+ years of existence, both the band’s line-up and style have experienced transformation after transformation. They have gone from pop punk and “emo-glam” to Beatles-style rock to alternative with touches of many other genres. Music Feeds’ Kasey Smith writes that, “It has always seemed like Panic! At The Disco have picked the genre of their next album out of a hat, writing and experimenting with anything that felt right at the time.” This constant changing of musical style keeps fans on their toes, excited for whatever they throw at them next.
Panic! At The Disco was introduced to the world as a band of four fresh-faced, eyeliner-wearing teenagers–Spencer Smith (drums), Brent Wilson (bass), Ryan Ross (guitar), and Brendon Urie (guitar and vocals). With their first album, A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out, in 2005, the band’s theatrical punk performance style and fast-paced lyrics began reeling in tons of young fans. Panic! soon rocketed to fame after the release of the second single from the record, “I Write Sins Not Tragedies,” which soon became something of a 2000s classic and made the band a worldwide phenomenon.
In 2008, Panic! At The Disco released their second studio album, Pretty. Odd.. The band had changed their sound, trading quick-tempoed tracks and shouting vocals for acoustic guitars and softer melodies (while also having traded bass player Brent Wilson for Jon Walker). Now, the spotlight was shared more between Brendon Urie (who was mostly just singing and playing guitar at the time) and vocalist, guitarist, and lyricist Ryan Ross. The two traded off lines in the songs, keeping the sound playful, yet haunting at times.
Panic! dropped their third record, titled Vices & Virtues, in 2011, following the departure of Ryan Ross and Jon Walker in 2009. The album’s style is somewhere between the pop punk of Fever and that of Beatles-esque Pretty. Odd.. The tracks vary between nostalgia-filled ballads and catchy pop-rock tunes. Vices is probably the first album where Urie really lets loose–exhibiting his vocal range and versatility.
Panic!’s 2013 album Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die! saw yet another change in the band’s musical style. With the addition of bassist Dallon Weekes, who had previously been just a touring member, Panic! took on a slightly more electronic sound. Lead singer Brendon Urie really started showing off his vocal capabilities with the release of this record. Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die! helped the group climb back to the top with singles like “Miss Jackson” and “This Is Gospel,” building excitement for the highly-anticipated release of Death of a Bachelor.
Welcome to the end of eras
According to Brendon Urie, his first album as the last remaining member of Panic! At The Disco is quite different from the previous ones–both in how it was produced and in how it sounds. Death of a Bachelor is the most personal record that Urie has created.
Dedicated to his wife, Sarah, the album reflects on his past and current experiences–with nostalgia and a little bit of regret. In a few interviews, he says that writing each album and singing about these experiences gets easier as time goes on. “I’ve come to terms with the past,” he tells Entertainment Tonight, “and so, I’m able to talk about certain stories.”
After production, which took a total of three months, Death of a Bachelor was ready to live and ready to go. Leading up to its 2016 release, Brendon Urie was constantly wondering if he should leak the album to his fans. At KROQ’s Almost Acoustic Christmas, where Panic! was performing, Urie talked about how he liked releasing songs one at a time as a way to test the waters. “I think I would be a little more anxious if I put the entire album out,” he says.
Panic!, meet the press
The waters have been mostly warm and inviting to Brendon Urie and Panic! At The Disco. This new era of Panic! has been well-received by both fans and critics. Many reviews have commended Urie on the risks that he takes with this fifth album, calling him a “firecracker of a frontman” and praising him on his “jaw-dropping vocal acrobatics.”
However, as with any work, Death of a Bachelor has received some negative criticism. What one impressed review describes as “a smörgåsbord of genres” has been called “messy” by another. The record is also said to parody A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out and people have said that Panic!’s latest project is just a vehicle for Brendon Urie’s ego. But are people really surprised by this? Urie is the last remaining member of the band, and maybe he is still so young and desperate for attention, as he sang himself on the band’s first single.
A more accurate description of Death of a Bachelor comes from Rock Sound, comparing the record to “the scene [in Baz Luhrmann’s version of The Great Gatsby] where Leonardo DiCaprio introduces himself as the smirking master of ceremonies.” You can really feel the huge party that is Death of a Bachelor and that Urie is running the show.
Well, this calls for a toast!
Death of a Bachelor might be Panic! At The Disco’s best album yet. They have always been a band that puts out each new record looking to top the last and their latest is no exception. The sound is new, but still obviously Panic!. Brendon Urie’s voice is still as amazing and recognizable as ever, and his musical talent really shines through on this fifth album.
Songs like “Emperor’s New Clothes,” “Death of a Bachelor,” and “Crazy=Genius” (which is probably my favorite on the album) really show off Urie’s versatility and prowess as an artist. He is able to flip between genres and influences in a way that attracts the attention of listeners, without having too much disconnect between each song. His vocals and range on Death of a Bachelor are stunning, effortlessly switching between high and low notes. His tone changes from excited and loud on the first track, “Victorious,” to calm and smooth on the last, “Impossible Year.”
Brendon Urie has said that the creation of this album marks major growth in his songwriting abilities. His new lyrics evoke feelings of nostalgia over things I have never experienced, like being a single man (“Death of a Bachelor”) or living in Los Angeles (“LA Devotee”). Other lyrics, like those of “The Good, the Bad and the Dirty,” are more reminiscent of the work of other pop-punk bands, like Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance.
Panic! At The Disco has released yet another marvelous album with Death of a Bachelor, bringing the group back to the top. This record reached #1 on the Billboard Top 200, an honor that Panic! had never received prior to its release. Thanks to his newest project, it seems that Brendon Urie’s fantasies will become his legacy.
Check out Panic! At The Disco’s album in the Death of a Bachelor playlist below!