I like to be a nice friend, and as such, I downloaded the new Panic At The Disco album. I promise you, my friends can confirm that I’m not just saying this to cover up my closet love of Panic At The Disco. I’m definitely not that kind of girl. However, after hearing the lead single from the album, “Nine In The Afternoon”, I decided to listen and see how much the band hijacks The Beatles and My Chemical Romance’s The Black Parade album.
I decided, whilst listening, that I was going to do a track-by-track, from an outsider’s perspective of the music. I’ll give it an unbiased listen, save for the fact that the quality of this rip (it’s an MTV rip) makes me want to eat a goat out of anger. I’m sorry, I’m not an extreme audio dork, but this is ridiculous.
Remember, I’m writing this as I listen to the songs, so I will change what I say a lot. I feel that this is a more honest way to write about a pop record, so here it is. Without further ado…
Holly Dixon’s Track-By-Track LIVE Review of Panic At The Disco’s Pretty. Odd.
- “We’re So Starving”
These guys have really decided it was about time to jock the style of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, right down to the cheering. The arrangement is mighty fine to, and the lyrics are strangely okay. Just okay.
- “Nine In The Afternoon”
Again, jocking the style of Sgt. Pepper’s, and if you don’t believe me, listen to this song, then listen to McCartney’s section of “A Day In The Life”. The piano is straight off that. The song is catchy enough, but it’s very generic. Paint-by-numbers Panic At The Disco, if you ask me. However, to Panic fans, I have to ask you, what does “nine in the afternoon” even mean?
- “She’s a Handsome Woman”
From the start, this song is much better than the band has ever been. Brendan Urie somehow sounds different here, and the melody is much more pleasing than a fair few pop songs that I’ve heard in recent times. Top marks for the lyric, “I wasn’t born to be a skeleton.”
- “Do You Know What I’m Seeing?”
Creepy arrangement, and more Sgt. Pepper’s, though this time I can’t place my finger on exactly which song, though I have to say it feels like a morose version of “Fixin’ A Hole”. Status report the album thus far, which I’m noticing right now: Why does Urie’s voice waver like that?
- “That Green Gentleman”
Panic At The Disco’s arrangement has always been rather pleasing to me, to the point where I wish I had a Urie-mute button on my remote for Panic songs. This song is an example of Panic’s arrangement working well, in this case feeling fairly big, but at the same time very, very modest, in a “shoo-bee-doo-wah” way, if you know what I mean. The lyrics still aren’t the best, but to be fair, who really listens to Panic At The Disco for insightful lyrics?
- “I Have Friends In Holy Spaces”
Two-minute-long track. Urie plays with what sounds like a ukulele, and the quality has been changed to sound like it’s a song playing through an old gramophone. I’ve never been that fond of this effect, but oh well. It feels like “Blood” from The Black Parade, or “When You’re In Prison” from The Offspring’s Spinter. Love those horns!
- “Northern Downpour”
As of now, it’s just Urie and an acoustic guitar and a piano, with a line about how “diamonds just looked like broken glass to me.” This is the first Panic track that I’ could honestly say I really like, due to Urie’s very un-Urue-esque voice, the fun guitar, and the somber tone. If these boys made more music like this, I would probably actually like them a lot. “Hey moon, please forget to fall down,” what a well-delivered and cosy little line! Also, if that’s Ryan Ross singing with him, I think Ross should simply replace Urie, and this band would be so much more tolerable. I’m also enjoying the chanting in the background.
- “When The Day Met The Night”
Am I the only one who thinks that’s the most Mellon Collie song title since the song titles from Mellon Collie? Anyway, this is kind of okay so far, as well. “When the sun met the moon, he was drinking tea in the garden under the green umbrella trees in the summer” is a lyric that caught my ear. This is another track that shows a lot of the wasted potential that Panic At The Disco should be utilizing for their music. If they publicly apologized for their last album, I think I’d actually consider endorsing the band, especially if they were cranking songs out like this. And as of right now, I can’t help but imagine Urie sitting with a notepad, a cup of coffee, and some Cat Stevens records. Tea For The Popman!
- “Pas De Cheval”
Catchy, pop-country sounding. I like songs with quick lyrical progression, because they make my brain work faster than slow-churning songs. These boys have definitely been listening to some honkey tonk, or my name is Cynthia. It’s not a bad sound, but it’s a little lackluster for the pop band. Still, I could like this, possibly.
- “The Piano Knows Something I Don’t Know”
First off, what a clunky title. This almost feels like a rejected song from one of Tim Burton’s musical films (especially The Nightmare Before Christmas), and this is why I condemned the band for so very long, and still do. They do overdramatic well enough, but there’s a fine line between… now see, here’s the benefit of a live review of the album, things change. The song gets decent when it actually kicks in, and you actually feel like bobbing your head a bit, which isn’t much of a problem for me.
- “Behind The Sea”
HAND CLAPS! OH BOY! Okay, so I know Ryan Ross is supposed to sing on this song, so I guess it wasn’t him on “Northern Downpour”, but whoever is singing this song, I have to say it’s still much better than Urie’s waver. “We’re all too small to talk to God” is a strangely interesting lyric, though not “deep,” so don’t go blowing your load over it just yet. Another good little pop song, this is, and I could grow to enjoy it a bit. Thus far, this and “Northern Downpour” are my favourite tracks on the album.
- “Folkin’ Around”
Another two-minute song, and the sort of song I would probably put on a pop mixtape. These guys, as I said, have been listening to some country, and it shows in the fact that, if you gave Urie a Southern accent, this song would definitely be on a country station. It’s got the twangy guitar and the harmonicas for it, for Christ’s sakes! It feels a lot like a movie soundtrack when someone’s driving fast down a long winding two-lane road in the desert, where the character is contemplating his life. Take that however you will.
- “She Had The World”
A nice little circus tune so far. It’s light and bouncy, and you just know Urie was singing this whilst bouncing on the balls of his feet, a little too manic for his own good. Love it or hate it, you just know this guy loves being him, because it’s obvious in songs like this that he has a lot of fun being Brendan Urie of Panic At The Disco. A slightly lackluster track, truly; it could use a little more bounce to it. It’s okay just the same, however. Oh, and there’s whistling. Who doesn’t love whistling?
- “From a Mountain in the Middle of the Cabins”
Another fairly paint-by-numbers sounding song. Also a bit lackluster, and it just doesn’t have the same spark that the other tracks seem to have. It feels dusty and dilapidated, even with Ryan Ross’ vocals kicking in again. I imagine, if the rest of the record weren’t as bouncy, this would be a better track. I’ll make a note to listen to the song as a standalone, rather than in the full upbeat context of the record. The arrangement is good, however.
- “Mad As Rabbits”
“And now he drags down miles in America, briefcase in hand,” another lyric that catches my ear. Sounding a little better than the Panic At The Disco formula, though the track isn’t over just yet, it feels like a decent enough way to finish of an album. I don’t have a terrible lot to say on the track, besides the fact that it’s decent enough.
So, I’ve listened to the album, and I’ve concluded that it’s a marvelous follow-up to a completely lackluster album such as A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out. Brendan Urie and his motley band of miscreants have done something interesting here, by taking their bitter pop-rock lyrics and formula and essentially shitting on it, flushing it down the toilet, and saying, “Jesus, that’s a relief, now let’s get down to business!
I imagine I might get a lot of shit for giving a decent enough review to this album, but I’ve never been the kind of person to condemn a decent album just because of its maker, which you should have gotten by now, with how I named My Chemical Romance’s The Black Parade the 6th best album of 2006.
I’m going on record as saying that this is really actually… good. I don’t know what kind of shelf life the album has, or how many times I will listen to it, but I feel that it has deserved at least one more listen, and definitely a couple when the album comes out, and I can banish the terrible sound quality.