You know that little band called…oh, what’s the name? Hold on a second people, I’ll think of it. You know? They’re the ones that have had those two monstrous hit singles “Dance, Dance" and “Sugar, We’re Going Down." God, what is the name? Oh yeah…Fall Out Boy. How I love me some FOB. Good songs. Catchy songs. Almost danceable rock songs, really. Throw in lead singer Patrick Stumph’s unique vocals and you’ve got yourself a hell of a band. Toss in some excruciatingly long song names and you’ve got a recipe for the new wave of emo/punk rock bands tearing up the scene. Among those riding the coattails of this invasion is a group of kids that takes every spice and sweetener that’s ever been tossed into the punk pie and adds a few drops of original flavor. I recently put their debut concoction, A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out, into my CD oven and fed my taste buds some terrific morsels of truly novel dance rock that had me sweating like a child molester at a jungle gym. I tasted some Panic! At the Disco and boy, did it ever go down smooth.
Two of the most overused and underappreciated words that have been used when describing this band and its music are “catchy" and the aforementioned “danceable." Generally, people hear these two words put together and their brains automatically focus in on the hip-hop and pop genres. But throw in the word “good" along with it, and they generally tend to stray towards the lesser-associated rock category. (Okay, that was a bit of a low blow, I’ll admit.) Let’s face it, over the years rock music has become a last resort for the dance floors and a depressing associate of closed doors. Panic! attempts to change that with their unveiling of the techno-infused rock mechanisms of A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out. Picture an amalgamation of Fall Out Boy, the Killers, and even subtle hints towards the Cure. Then, throw those into a blender and hit “rave" and you’ll have half of America’s teens out on the dance floors with glow sticks in hand.
From the get-go, this album strives to get feet tapping and heads bobbing as it glides through the rather gratuitous Introduction and booms into some ecstasy-laced acoustic strums coupled with Brandon Urie’s oddly familiar voice. Did Brandon take vocal lessons from Patrick Stumph? (True story: I thought this was Stumph’s side project until I read the booklet inside the CD case.) “The Only Difference Between Martyrdom and Suicide is Press Coverage" does what every good dance hit does: it tells the listener exactly what it wants them to do. “Come on just snap, snap, snap your fingers for me." Okay then, I’ll get my fingers crackin’. “Come on just tap, tap, tap your toes to the beat." You give me a beat and I’ll get my feet flappin’ Brandon. Everything about song screams “DANCE," especially the keyboard/moog techno jam fest during the bridge.
An attribute that helps the songs flow even with all of its awkward wordiness is Urie’s language manipulation. He has a way of taking uncommon phrases or rhymes and somehow making them work. Take the repeated bridge of “London Beckons Songs About Money Written By Machines" where Urie draws out certain syllables to accentuate certain rhymes. This same quality can become a bit of a hindrance though, when mixed with the disc’s pompous production. The very next song, “Nails For Breakfast, Tacks For Snacks," makes Urie sound like he swallowed some dish soap and is burping out bubbles while he yelps out the lyrics for the track’s duration.
If curiosity killed the cat, then repetition raped the reptile. Fortunately, in this case, Panic at least knows to use some lubricant. The standout track, “Camisado," showcases their amazing ability to beat a dead horse with a full viewing audience, and do it with enough charisma for no one to flinch. Here’s a fun fact: this song uses the phrase “Just sit back" 26 times during its approximate 3-minute running time. Did it get repetitive? Nope. Another fun fact: Panic throws a line to old-school hip-hop acts like Run DMC and DJ Kool with their call-and-return chants of “When I say ‘shotgun’ you say ‘wedding’" featured in the aptly named “Time to Dance." Little bells and whistles like this show up all over the place and break up what could otherwise become a fairly monotonous record. It’s also what helps them stray from being lumped in wholly with their peers. Don’t hide that in a bushel basket, boys.
Before they can get cornered in the fast-paced techno category, they shift gears and toss in some jazzier numbers, some slower melodies, and even some silent-movie-inspired backings. They’re at their most charismatic when they turn sultry in “Lying is the Most Fun a Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off" and “But It’s Better If You Do." Meanwhile, they’re at their most pretentious with offbeat, self-indulgent ditties like “There’s a Good Reason These Tables Are Numbered Honey. You Just Haven’t Thought of it Yet." They become too enamored with being unusual, and not focused enough on producing good music. Different, unfortunately, does not always equal good. “I Constantly Thank God For Esteban," for example, is very different. It prominently features some old-time, saloon-style lyricism and alongside the techno edge that was the main focus of the first half of the album. Unfortunately, the “sing like you’re speaking" technique used in the verses and bridge seem awkward and greatly disrupt the natural flow that the chorus brings.
But let’s not linger on the lackluster; let’s focus on the fruitful. The current single off of the album, “I Write Sins Not Tragedies," is incredibly catchy (obviously; it’s a single) and puts the bulk of the album’s traits into one nice, neat little song. Here, the singing style that brought down “…Esteban" is used effectively and aids rather than detracts from the instrumentation. They end with a bang, as well. “Build God, Then We’ll Talk" takes a few jabs at the song “My Favorite Things" and actually has some of the best lyrics you’ll find on the album. It tells a story, in an almost parabolic fashion, of a motel and a couple of its more “interesting" tenants. It’s not the most exciting song in terms of instrumentation, but it doesn’t fall between the cracks like a few of its predecessors.
In terms of a being a fun album, this has it in spades. Sure, there could be room for a little more substance (not much, mind you; we wouldn’t want to take away from the pure fun factor it offers), but I have a feeling this band is looking to be taken all too seriously. They create catchy, danceable, songs with elements from a multitude of genres and instruments, and they do it with enough charisma to sway a nun into an orgy. And I’m pretty sure she’ll be sweating out just about everything in her body other than the fever this band will induce.
Of all the overrated bands, this one kills me the 2nd most. At a FOB concert I recently attended, they would play their stupid video on the monitors and all the teenage girls would freak out and scream the words horribly off key.
My Girlfriend has just got into Panic!, My thoughts;
1st) They are talented, just a bunch of 18 year olds, also i heard they sold out the astoria in london real quick
2nd) Im listening....and it's ok, lotta songs sound overly randomnised?! if tht is the word, seems almost overly camp?! (dont shoot!) still something is happening.....
3rd) .......what the fook is in this stuff, put it in the water, they seem to be infectious, im tappin my foot as i type, maybe in sync to typin......nah just to the music.
4th) Crap names for songs tho.
5th) Maybe genius song names....
6th) Too much exposure puts me off again. Every Virgin Megastore it is on...........You woulda thought some variation wit all those CD's?
7th) Everyone loves them, too popular, no longer as good as I once thought.
Facts are they are good, just too much exposure and quotes from ppl like; they are saving music etc wtf is tht about.
Excellent review. Horrible band. Self-satisifed, smug, and archly neo-intellectual/poetic/ironic with their song titles.
As much as I bitch about them though, I enjoy The Only Difference...and they are demonically, evilly catchy.
But in an annoying way.
Man I disagree... It appears to be me, but I just think panic sucks ass. They sound like shit, can't sing... They just get on my nerves so damn much. It sounds to me like some poppy shitty punk wannabe crap.
I absolutely hate P!ATD, the day a reasonable band comes along with an exclamation point in their name I'll eat my shoes. As for your review, the first paragraph was pretty nifty, after that it got kinda samey. Not bad by any means though