When Panic! At The Disco first arrived on the scene with their elaborate tales of ‘sinners’ and ‘whores’, there were not many 16-year-old hearts Brendon Urie didn’t steal for his emo cabaret. The springboard success of revolutionary debut ‘A Fever You Can’t Sweat’ proved to be both a blessing and a curse for the band; despite their best efforts to move on, the iconic collection seemed to cast a stubborn shadow over its successors.
Follow up ‘Pretty Odd’ paid homage to a kaleidoscope of ‘70s influences, while third album ‘Vices & Virtues’ tackled pop-rock anthems. The band’s latest effort ‘Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die’ proved true to its name as they returned to their Vegas roots. While all of the albums were ambitious in their re-invention of Panic’s sound, they were somewhat lacking in the singularity that the debut album prides itself on.
‘Death Of A Bachelor’ is a record that comes full circle on Panic’s evolution. With the revolving door of members closed for now, frontman Urie is finally free to take songwriting duties completely into his own hands – and it seems no coincidence that this album is all the better for it.
The LP presents itself as a marriage of two halves. One side of the split harks back to Panic’s early sound; songs such as ‘Don’t Threaten Me With A Good Time’ and ‘The Good The Bad And The Dirty’ provide a grimy backdrop for the weird and wonderful tales of debauchery Urie has become so renowned for.
The other half devotes itself to gloriously triumphant anthems; from the opening chants of ‘Victorious’, through to the gospel-tinged ‘Hallelujah’ and the velvety Sinatra croon on the title cut. There’s a definite theme of liberation running throughout – a sure nod to the front man’s emancipation from the ever-changing line up.
Urie uses every weapon in his arsenal to offer up a smörgåsbord of genres, all the while maintaining the idiosyncrasies that define Panic’s sound. It makes for a thrilling ride, one with a pace that almost never lets up. But in an album of ambitious hits, the mawkish execution of ballad ‘Impossible Year’, paired with the misplaced ‘House Of Memories’, closes the album on a slightly underwhelming note.
Fortunately, these flaws go little way to diminish the genre-defying juggernaut ‘Death Of A Bachelor’ has proved to be. And at the centre of Panic At The Disco’s best album yet is Urie himself. The charisma and eccentricity of the front man, matched by his jaw-dropping vocal acrobatics sees Urie finally become the ringmaster of his own circus.
Words: Lisa Henderson
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