Review Summary: A fun piece of pop that shows that Panic may have more potential then they previously let on.
Panic at the Disco is an unfairly maligned band, in my opinion. They were instantly panned for being discovered by Fall Out Boy (and being a hit with the oh so hated “teenage fangirl” market), and no one really paid attention to the simple fact that they were actually doing some interesting stuff on their debut. It’s not Radiohead or anything, but tracks like “But It’s Better If You Do” and “I Constantly Thank God For Estaban” showed far more creativity then the best that their peers in the radio-rock scene have conjured up.
And so we come to their sophomore release, “Pretty. Odd.”, which sounds like the band attempting to shed themselves of the labels attached to them and find a sound that will bring in a more mature fan base. How are they going to do this, you may ask? By liberally ripping off The Beatles, that’s how.
Thankfully this actually works well most of the time. Songs like “Nine In The Afternoon” and “That Green Gentleman” are pure pop candy, and brilliant melodies make frequent appearances over the course of the albums slightly over-long 15 tracks. “She’s A Handsome Woman” is probably highlight here, with a raw descending guitar line that’s matched perfectly by a twinkling backing piano. The song also has a fantastically catchy melody, one that, unlike some of the disc, never wears thin. In fact, almost every song here has an instantly memorable hook, a skill which is too-often overlooked in the music scene. Even the albums worst track (The bizarre “She Had The World”) is catchier then most bands releases, and in this genre of music that’s a strength not to be ignored.
Unfortunately a good melody can not entirely save a bad song, and at times Pretty. Odd. can fall flat. The aforementioned “She Had the World” is the worst offender. It’s a bizarre mix of electronic drums, fuzzy keyboard lines and endlessly repeating melodies that makes you wonder what the heck the band was thinking when they put it to tape. “From A Mountain In The Middle Of the Cabins” is another low point of the album. This is probably the track where the Beatles influence comes out most, but the band does not have the depth or meaning to match their slightly overdone orchestral instrumentation.
And, in the end, that’s the problem with the entire album. The whole thing is simply a rip-off of other, better, pop bands from before. Certainly the band pull off their influences better than most, and the songs sound fine on their own. Throughout the whole thing, though, there is a feeling that you may as well just listen to the originals; they’re far better. Aside from that, Panic At The Disco fail to capture the essence of what made the bands they so idolize great, and in the end it comes off as a good, but slightly uninspiring, blend of melodies and orchestral instrumentation with no real depth to it. As such it wears thin over time, and once you get past the hooks and orchestras there is nothing there to really keep interest.
While it lasts, though, Pretty. Odd. is a fun ride. It’s a joyous pop record, one that knows its strengths and focuses on them. One gets the feeling that if Panic At The Disco can find the depth to match their melodies they could make a fantastic album. For now, though, Pretty. Odd. is still a good release, and while it does not completely succeed at it’s goals, it certainly proves an enjoyable listen.