Review: Panic at the Disco’s “Pretty. Odd.”
So, if “A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out” was represented by a hyper sexualized circus, then I think that “Pretty. Odd.” is characterized by a U.S. Depression Era carnival in the Dust Bowl.
It’s more than that, obviously, since the sophomore effort concentrates on borrowing from what is by now a well-documented list of artists. But it does more than that. It’s a philosophy that I’m about to go into. It might make your head hurt. It makes MY head hurt. And no, I did not write this after eating any of Panic’s “special brownies.”
Anyway, the Victorian Era Sexual Circus feel was for an album that was about proving yourself. Excess. It was about an over the top effort in order to get yourself noticed. Panic’s first album was by far a commercial success. But the band has indicated they didn’t think it was an artistic success. And that makes sense, the album was about showmanship, and while some substance came through it wasn’t enough. “Fever” was a pop album. Plain and simple. It got noticed, it was music you could listen to and enjoy. But it was, in the end, an album put together by a group of very talented teenage musicians.
The Depression Era Carnival is about something else. It’s a hopeful album, it’s music reflecting hard work that is worth it, it pays off. More than that, it becomes a team effort (all of the band members contribute backing vocals, with Ryan Ross taking lead vocals in more than a few places, which automatically for me makes this a better album…Ross’s voice is one of many secrets Panic has apparently been hiding from us this whole time), it means that these four men didn’t just grow as individuals. They grew together and they grew into a band. They’re no longer compartmentalized, it’s not a regimented divide of who does what. It’s now that they blend together, they have actually become a single entity, an actual band, rather than four boys on stage with instruments.
There’s also a feel to this album that they ENJOYED making it. There was a stiff pretentiousness to “Fever” that felt like the album was made to be ART. It was SUBSTANTIAL. This music was SERIOUS BUSINESS.
However, “Pretty. Odd.” has music that is just…fun. There’s a feeling of giggly joy to it. It’s a summer album, the sort of thing you put on when the sun is shining and you want to feel GOOD. And in that relaxed, joyous feeling? The boys have made stronger music. While that also deals with the age and experience difference, the fact is that once they stopped trying to prove themselves as artists? They’ve made an album that proves them as artists.
So, everyone needs to listen to this album. All of you. Older Panic fans who have been eagerly awaiting the new album will not be disappointed with what they have waited for. Panic fans who were skeptical of the new sound should listen to have their fears allayed, the band still sounds strong…and as I mentioned before, there’s the added bonus of Ryan Ross’s voice. Music snobs who claimed Panic was just a bunch of pretty boys should listen to see where the musical chops of those “pretty boys” lies. People who wrote Panic off based on the singles from Fever should listen to see how completely and utterly DIFFERENT it is. And people who never gave a damn about Panic in the first place should listen just for a good fucking album.
“Pretty. Odd.” releases on March 25th.