Revered as one of the most important pop punk bands in the music world today because of their innovative ideas and a hardcore fanbase that has been following behind since the band released their debut studio album back in 2005, Panic! At The Disco have, more than ten years later, released their fifth studio album, Death Of A Bachelor, just a couple of days ago, on the 15th of January.
The band was first formed in Las Vegas, Nevada, and was initially started with just Ryan Ross and Spencer Smith, who were childhood best friends and started playing music while still in high school. They soon invited one of their friends, Brent Wilson, to join the band, who in turn, brought along Brendon Urie. This is how legends often begin, and this was where it all started for Panic!
It wasn’t much after this, that they started writing music together, which resulted in Ryan Ross contacting Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy through Livejournal. This, in turn, led to Panic! At The Disco being signed to Fueled By Ramen’s imprint label, Decaydance Records, and the creation of the band’s first studio album, A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out, which was released on the 27th of September in 2005.
This new album, to nobody’s surprise, is already being hailed as among 2016’s best albums, and the year has barely even started yet. This isn’t a complete exaggeration, as one of the most impressive things about this album is the fact that Panic! At The Disco went from being a four-man show to just a solo routine, with Brendon Urie holding down the fort, as well as writing and recording Death Of A Bachelor all by himself. The music on this album is a mix of Urie’s personal influence of Frank Sinatra, and an even bigger influence of the style Panic! At The Disco first started off with in their debut studio album.
It starts off with “Victorious”, which may not have been the lead single from the album, but it quickly became its best selling single so far, and it mainly speaks of creating a facade to show someone is happier than they actually are, and the main emotion felt throughout the song is one of spite. “I’m a killing spree in white, eyes like broken Christmas lights / Fifty words for murder and I’m every one of them”, Urie sings, with a chorus that keeps repeating “until we feel alright”. It moves on to a lyrically similar song called “Don’t Threaten Me With A Good Time”, but it comes off entirely as a party anthem when compared to “Victorious”. It is definitely the kind of song one would expect to hear at a nightclub.
“Hallelujah” is the lead single on Death Of A Bachelor, released almost a year before the album’s official release, and the religious undertones in the song are instantly obvious, and not just because of the name: the chorus plays the lyrics of “all you sinners stand up, sing hallelujah / say your prayers” and a large part of the music video takes place in a church, with some scenes where Urie can be seen singing inside a confessional. This particular theme is further deepened when we take into consideration Urie’s relationship with religion, as he was raised in a Mormon household.
The next track, “Emperor’s New Clothes” is a rather interesting song. It starts with a sample of “This Is Gospel”, a song from Panic! At The Disco’s previous album, Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die! that is yet another song Urie wrote about his experience with religion, and “Emperor’s New Clothes” is orchestrated as a continuation of that song, especially in the music video, which relies heavily on visuals to display its message and connect with the previous songs. Here, we see Urie escaping from the clutches of what had him trapped for years – his parents’ religion – and transform into the complete opposite of what it represented: a demon.
We can mostly hear Frank Sinatra’s influence in the eponymous “Death Of A Bachelor”, with the polished vocals and high notes that are carried throughout most of the song. Reportedly, this song is about Urie’s wife, Sarah, with the rather poetic chorus: “The death of a bachelor / Seems so fitting for happily ever after / How could I ask for more? A lifetime of laughter at the expense of the death of a bachelor”
“Crazy=Genius” is yet another party song that will have you dancing without even meaning to, and it is equalled with the next track, “LA Devotee”, a song that is entirely about the city Urie now lives in: Los Angeles. It is reminiscent of “Vegas Lights” from the previous album, a song that was dedicated wholly to Las Vegas, where Urie and his former bandmates were originally from.
We move on to a much calmer “Golden Days”. It is primarily a song about nostalgia, with lyrics such as “Forever younger growing older just the same, all the memories that we make will never change” and promises to only remember the ‘golden days’, but it leaves the listener uncertain about whether the song is about someone in the past or someone in the present that has an unknown future.
“The Good, The Bad And The Dirty” is in simple terms a song either about a relationship that isn’t going anywhere or that isn’t serious but there are most likely feelings involved, something that is fairly obvious with the lyric: “If you wanna start a fight, you better throw the first punch / Make it a good one”, which is later paralleled with “And you been gone so long, I forgot what you feel like but I’m not gonna think about that right now / And all our friends want us to fall in love”.
The last two songs are entirely about lost love: “House Of Memories” is a happier song, talking more on the desire to keep happy memories over the woes of having less than pleasant ones. “Impossible Year”, on the other hand, is a proper ballad and is definitely sad enough to pull it off, especially since it starts off rather gloomy with “there’s no sunshine”, and is nothing but piano arrangements and Urie’s cutthroat vocals.
In its entirety, this album is about a deep loss that one has perhaps suffered in the past, but is now attempting to move on from, but at the same time, refusing to let go of memories that once meant something to all parties involved. This is a wonderful album, and it’s something you can listen to regardless of your situation, whether you’re feeling melancholic at night, or whether driving in the summer with the windows down. Death Of A Bachelor is out now via Fueled By Ramen, purchase it on iTunes here.
Words by Qurat-ul-Anne Sikander
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