I have to admit that I will always have a special place in my heart for Panic! At the Disco. This is because they are actually the band that got me into music the way I am into it now. For whatever reason, they were the first band I became obsessed with. To this day, they are still the most played artist on my iPod. Now, while I have moved on from my love of them as I have gotten into more, and honestly better, bands I still find their catalog fun and I still enjoy listening to them despite their flaws. That being said, I was excited for Death of a Bachelor but was not expected too much from it. The lead single “Hallelujah” was alright even if I was not exactly a fan of the lyrics all that much.
The one thing that had me curious, and I am sure all Panic fans felt the same, was the fact that the only member left in the band is lead singer Brendan Urie. I was not worried considering the amount of energy he has always added to the band, he would be fit to take it over. After listening, it is clear things are different in some ways now that it is just Urie, which is both a good and a bad thing.
The best thing I can say about this album is it feels much more personal for Urie, making plenty of sense since this is pretty much a solo effort. Urie creates a very loose concept album about Urie giving up his bachelor lifestyle to get married, taking on the band on his own, and struggling to keep making great music. Songs like “Don’t Threaten Me with a Good Time” and “Hallelujah” show Urie enjoying the final moments of not being tied down before the title track which shows him giving into settling down and getting married. Then we get tracks like “Emperor’s New Clothes” which seems to have Urie excited about taking the “crown” or the band and having the power to do what he wants. The song “Crazy=Genius” shows Urie’s doubt about making good music, saying he might be more of a Mike Love than a Brian Wilson.
Sadly, with the good comes the bad of Urie leading the band on his own. My main problem would be that the album feels much less focused in sound than the group’s previous albums. While their discography is a little hit and miss, each album has a clear sound throughout, something Death of a Bachelor fails to do at times. While on some tracks like the opening “Victorious” it seems Urie is trying to stick with what has worked for the band in the past, moments like “Death of a Bachelor” and “Impossible Year” which has Urie emulating Frank Sinatra, seem a little out of place.
Brendan Urie still does a great job as the front man, though. He has always been a charismatic presence which definitely works in his favor. While it might be a little out of place in terms of sound, he makes the title track quite memorable as he does an excellent job of making a song that is inspired by both Sinatra and Queen. Another one of my favorite tracks, “Emperor’s New Clothes” can also be credited to Urie’s amazing vocals which I find myself singing along to each time I hear this track. The only time I feel he could have done better would be on the closing track “Impossible Year.” I am assuming this is a track written for former band member Spencer Smith who departed from the group a couple years ago. While the lyrics are sweet, Urie’s deliver seems very unnatural. Again, emulating Sinatra, Urie appears to be forcing his voice to be deeper than it naturally is making the track seem awkward and a little goofy, which causes the song to fail in my opinion.
While I think the album is pretty frontloaded with quality, I still found plenty to enjoy from this album. It hit some new highs for the group, as “Emperor’s New Clothes,” “Don’t Threaten Me with a Good Time” and “Death of a Bachelor” are some of my favorite songs in the band’s catalog. I enjoyed the steps toward maturity and am eager to see what Urie does next. At this point it might be smarter for him to go solo but we will see. I just wish the album had stuck the landing a little better with the last few tracks being relatively weak. If you have been a fan of this band there is no reason you will not enjoy this album.