It’s 2016, with the new year comes new Panic! at the Disco. And surprise, surprise! It sounds different than their last record and there’s been a lineup change. The once four-piece is now lead singer, Brendon Urie’s solo outlet. On Death of a Bachelor, the singer takes the next logical step in Panic!’s evolution, but often his inflated ego gets in the way of the charm the band once had.
Panic! at the Disco has never been one to make a record that sounds like the last, their style ranging from Fall Out Boy inspired emo-rock to folk-pop to steampunk influenced pop. The band’s previous release, Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die, aired on the more mainstream side of things but maintained a strong alternative-scene influence. Death of a Bachelor continues the band’s exploration of the pop genre but strays too far from their roots unlike the album’s predecessor, and this may be due to Urie’s brash self-confidence that has no one left to restrict it. The result may leave you either loving the band and Urie even more or feeling a little put off like I do.
“I was drunk and it didn’t mean a thing,” Urie sings on the album’s lead single, “Hallelujah,” but is he talking about a negative comment made in his intoxicated state or the album? Sure, the album still has its moments, but my criticism is only somewhat of an exaggeration. Rather than telling interestingly worded stories as in the past, such as in “Northern Downpour” (“If all our life is but a dream/Fantastic posing greed/Then we should feed our jewelry to the sea/For diamonds do appear to be/Just like broken glass to me”) wherein they question what is important in life, Urie likes to brag about being a rockstar. A lot.
Don’t believe me? Well, here’s “Don’t Threaten Me With a Good Time.”
“Who are these people?
I just woke up in my underwear
No liquor left on the shelf
I should probably introduce myself
You shoulda seen what I wore”
“Tonight we are victorious
Champagne pouring over us
All my friends were glorious
Tonight we are victorious”
I could go on with examples from “Emperor’s New Clothes,” and “The Good, The Bad, And The Dirty,” but you get my point. It feels uninspired and pretentious. However, there are times where this swollen sense of self-confidence works and produces some of the better songs in Panic!’s catalogue.
Brendon’s voice on the record is stronger than ever and he isn’t afraid to push its limits, whether he is wowing you with his high notes (“Emperor’s New Clothes) or crooning you with a smooth Sinatra-like vibrato (“Death of a Bachelor”). In fact, on the title track, “Crazy=Genius,” and “Impossible Year,” his confidence only makes his Sinatra impression more authentic and all that much more impressive.
Overall, while extremely vocally impressive, the album still fails to live up to the band’s past works with its lyrical sleaze and musical simplicity. Take it for what it is and let the few standout tracks tide you over, maybe the next release will have a little more to offer.