Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Panic! At The Disco - Death Of A Bachelor (Album Review)

Panic! At The Disco are one of those bands that everyone has heard of, most have heard ‘that one song’ and the band have wiggled their way into music notoriety based not so much on the quality of their music; but because the relentless opinion of their fans that they are without flaw and should not be subject to criticism of any sort inevitably invites people to do exactly that.

‘Panic!’ were never a band that I necessarily disliked although they have, for quite a while, been popular to dislike in the mainstream, the problem I have is they have never shown much development to me. Like many ‘alternative’ branded artists they are simply a parallel running alongside the boring, predictable pop they are trying to segregate themselves from. Their 2016 release ‘Death of a Bachelor’ is all over the place in terms of both consistency and quality which in a way shows they’re up for trying new things and expanding their horizons but it’s been a pretty sloppy attempt.
The opening track ‘Victorious’ begins with a very poppy clap-along beat with a female voice singing about parties and beauty mentioning such extravagance as champagne. As the more rock-based guitar crashes in, however, the rest of the song seems to criticise this attitude which Panic! have pictured as the whole pop scenes mentality. One song in and we already have the dismissive attitude towards pop music. I began to think I was going to have to look up my ‘shitty alternative band thinks the mainstream’s ridiculous and have gave it the finger, put their fingers in their ears, and lalala’d off to make music for people who think they’re special in their own way’ file and hit copy-paste. Fortunately, this album does have some interesting parts even if it’s not an album I’ll be rushing to play on repeat.
‘Don’t threaten me with a good time’ included a pleasant, if completely unexpected sample from B-52’s - Rock Lobster and Hallelujah offered a refreshing change of pace to their usual fast paced tracks showing their ability to craft together intriguing musical pieces even if the lyrics can be lacking. The title track introduces the weirdest part of this album. ‘Death of a Bachelor’ is the first attempt on this album at some pseudo-crooner vocals and I’m really glad that they’ve tried it because it’s a deviation from the norm and that’s how bands evolve. However, it’s absolutely not impressive enough to be the title track and considering it doesn’t give a good representation of the general vibe of this album it was a poor choice as even a single. To be honest the following track ‘Crazy=Genius’ offers a much better amalgamation of nostalgic trumpet flares with big-band drum-beats, and power chords with rock drums. It’s definitely one of the better songs on the album and I think as a single would have attracted more interest.

The stand out song of this album is ‘LA Devotee’ which Panic! were sensible enough to release as a single. Whether Panic! are comfortable with this or not I don’t know but it’s probably the most pop song on the album. It’s catchy, the lyrics are decent and they even included a darker section near the end to ensure that it didn’t become monotonous; simultaneously keeping the themes that attracted their older fans and opening up their scope to attract a more mainstream audience. Maybe it’s because my hopes were raised too high when I reached thus far into the album and landed on this track but after this point the album really begins to flop. Songs like ‘Golden Days’ are more similar to their older work which may please many existing fans but the bass-line and palm muted chords, while not exactly flawed are just not unique enough to be notable. Finally we reach ‘Impossible year’ which culminates the album and for some reason returns, with a slow piano ballad, to the pseudo-crooner personality Brendon Urie seems to have adopted. Maybe ‘Panic! At The Disco’ are really looking to change their sound and the bland songs reminiscent of their older material in this album were simply safe fillers while they cautiously test out their newer sounds with their fans.

Quite a few of the songs on this album may do the job for long-time fans of Panic! but I can’t see them reeling in new ones. I find it hard to comment on the crooner persona but I’ve got a nagging feeling they’re just trying to be vintage because they want to alter their sound and they’re struggling with new ideas. I can’t recommend this album to people who are not currently fans but I do recommend you stream or maybe even download ‘LA Devotee’ because, unlike the rest, I’m going to be listening to this one again.

Nathan Beck

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