Panic! At The Disco
Death Of A Bachelor
When we last left Brendon Urie, the Panic! At The Disco frontman (and now sole member) was dancing his way through moody, electronic-inspired pop on 2013’s career-reviving Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die, an album largely colored by grayscale soundscapes and muted tones. Things are much more vibrant on Panic!’s fifth studio album, but what hasn’t changed is Urie’s disinterest in repeating himself.
Sure, there are lateral steps to the sound he crafted on Too Weird (most notably the destined-for-sports-arenas jock jam “Victorious”), but much of Death Of A Bachelor expertly toes the line between classic and contemporary. Brassy horns and flanged-out synth lines coexist seamlessly on the power-pop number “L.A. Devotee” (destined to be an all-time great Panic! song), while “Don’t Threaten Me With A Good Time” marries surf rock guitar riffs with stomping electro beats and the hit-me-with-your-best-shot swagger of “The Good, The Bad And The Dirty” delivers attitude in spades. Elsewhere, the swinging “Crazy=Genius” features an iconic floor-tom beat nicked from jazz legend Gene Krupa’s “Sing, Sing, Sing” and smacks of A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out’s deep cut “There’s A Good Reason These Tables Are Numbered Honey, You Just Haven’t Thought Of It Yet.”
But for all of its precocious, borderline bratty moments, Death Of A Bachelor is a remarkably nuanced affair. Urie sends regrets packing on the gospel-infused “Hallelujah”; invents starry-eyed back stories for strangers on “Golden Days” and pens a nostalgic missive to old friends on “House Of Memories.” The real standouts come when Urie channels the spirit of his hero Frank Sinatra on the title track and “Impossible Year,” the album’s top two cuts. Combining Ol’ Blue Eyes and Beyoncé, the former pays tribute to married life and showcases the singer’s vocal versatility (Urie gets bonus points for making “playing hooky” totally work in this modern lounge classic). And if “Death Of A Bachelor” is Urie bringing Sinatra to the 21st century, “Impossible Year”—a song that dates back to the post-Pretty. Odd. era—finds the singer stepping back in time with a major-to-minor piano melody that swells into a horn section, perfect for a ’60s-era jazz club audition. When the towering bridge hits, and Urie’s cries, “The nightmares always hang on past the dreams,” it’s hard not to break out in goosebumps and marvel at the moving songwriting.
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