This past weekend, I died. Literally. I died and was reborn. This weekend, I finally listened to Panic! At the Disco’s most recent album Death Of A Bachelor, released on January 15th of this year, straight through for the first time and it was a religious experience. Before this album, I was an inexperienced Panic! At the Disco fan, having only listened to a few of their previous songs, most notably the angsty middle school jam, “I Write Sins Not Tragedies”. A few months ago, I became obsessed with Fall Out Boy’s comeback album American Beauty/American Psycho and so I decided to give another old favorite band of mine another listen. I am not exaggerating when I say that Death Of A Bachelor, Panic!’s fifth studio album, will go down as one of my favorite albums of all time.
This is the first album the band has released that doesn’t include Spencer Smith, the band’s original drummer and one of the co-founders. His official departure in 2015 left lead vocalist Brendon Urie as the sole founding member of the group remaining. While it may be sad to see that all but one of the original members is left remaining as a full-time member of the group, Panic!’s most recent installment, while it may be more of a solo act by Urie, features some of the band’s strongest material to date — and the numbers prove it. Death Of A Bachelor not only brought about Panic!’s best sales week for an album thus far, but was also the band’s first album to clutch the No. 1 spot on the Billboard 200 chart, knocking down Adele’s 25 and David Bowie’s Blackstar in the process. In the words of Urie, “Death Of A Bachelor is in honor of those times I spent alone as a kid. Allowing music to consume me. Playing everything myself just to get the idea right and out of my head. It’s a beginning to a new era. And an homage to how it all began.”
Some of the most contagious tracks (e.g. “Hallelujah,” “Emperor’s New Clothes,” and “Victorious”) were released as singles in 2015, so the debut of the full album was somewhat anticlimactic for fans who had kept up with the previous singles. By the time the release date rolled around, the stronger half of the album had already been out in the open. However, having only heard “Hallelujah”— the lead single— before taking on the rest of the album, this didn’t have much of an effect on my first listen through the album in its entirety. Death Of A Bachelor clocks in at a mere 36 minutes and leaves its listeners eager for more.
“Hallelujah” is just an all-around good time. It tells us to embrace ourselves, let go, and just enjoy life. It seems fitting that it was released as the first single as it falls in line with Urie’s goal for the album which was to pay homage to new beginnings.
My three favorite songs on the album are (in order) “Emperor’s New Clothes”, “Death Of A Bachelor”, and “Victorious”. “Victorious” opens the album with infectious energy, with a catchy chorus and a powerful rock beat. Plus, it sounds just as good live because Brendon Urie is a low-key god, so there’s that (can you tell I’m kind of in love with him?). “Emperor’s New Clothes”, best listened to while watching the admittedly weird music video, is dark and intense. The chorus highlights Urie’s insane range (at one point, he belts an F#5) and includes some of the most inspired lines: “Sycophants on velvet sofas / Lavish mansions, vintage wine / I am so much more than royal / Snatch your chain and mace your eyes” and “Heroes always get remembered / But you know legends never die.” I can’t even describe how much I love this song. Just listen to it.
“Death Of A Bachelor” is also best experienced while watching the music video but mostly due to the fact that it’s 3 and a half minutes of Brendon Urie looking sexy as hell. The title track is a mix of Frank Sinatra meets electronic meets pop. If that doesn’t grab your attention, I don’t know what will. The song is totally jam-worthy complete with both sultry low notes and piercing falsetto. Urie steps it up a notch, this time effortlessly hitting a G5 because he can. While you’re at it, listen to his piano cover of the song which will no doubt awaken an unknown part of your sexuality.
“Don’t Threaten Me with a Good Time” and “Crazy=Genius” bring out the harder rock side of Panic! while tracks like “House of Memories” and “Golden Days” showcase softer rock. “LA Devotee” starts out as a typical rock track before transitioning into a bumpin’ chorus.
I’m pretty indifferent toward “The Good, the Bad and the Dirty”. Though it’s a great song, it pales a bit in comparison to the greatness that is the rest of the album. It’s at a bit of a slower pace and the chord progressions aren’t quite as innovative, but it’s still a solid piece.
The closing track, “Impossible Year”, is a slow piano ballade that showcases Urie’s gorgeous tone coupled with romantic strings in the background. The track honestly made me weak at the knees; it was a beautiful way to end the album.
It suffices to say that no matter how many transitions the band goes through, Urie anchors the band with his incredible voice and talent as a multi-instrumentalist and songwriter. Not to undermine the value of the other band members, but Urie really had the biggest part in creating this album. Throughout the album, he sang lead and background vocals, played guitar, bass, drums, wrote lyrics, and produced. I am honestly torn as to whether to hate him vehemently for being so goddamn talented, attractive (why not leave some for the rest of us?), and able to sing a full octave above me (a C7 in case you wanted to feel bad about yourself) or to obsess over him. Both? Yeah, both sounds good.
Urie as a solo act is a force to be reckoned with and there is no doubt that the band will only continue to succeed in future endeavors. Needless to say, I am itching for Panic!’s new material. This wasn’t enough. Hurry up. I’m begging here. In the meantime, I’m going to see what sketchy things (I’m willing to do a lot) I have to do to get tickets to Panic!’s Summer Tour and I suggest you all do the same.