Review Summary: Panic tweak their formula yet again...crafting another solid, but imperfect album.
If there’s one thing that can be said about Panic At The Disco at this point, it’s that they’ve never made the same album twice. Sure, every album is packed with Brendon Urie’s charismatic vocals, and with each release we get a glimpse of the band’s bizarre music videos, but they tend to try something a little different each time they hit the studio. With their sophomore album Pretty Odd
, they ditched their brand of dance infused pop-punk and took a more daring approach-- even drawing influences from The Beatles. The album received mixed reviews, but it proved the band weren’t afraid to try new things, and that’s exactly what they do on their latest affair, Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die!
Inspired by vocalist Brendon Urie’s hometown, the songs on Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die!
are often as theatrical as Vegas itself. In fact, the album name is taken directly from Hunter S. Thompson’s novel ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ which finds two men entangled in a world of drugs. Needless to say, this concept alone is enough to perk one’s interest, and although the album doesn’t always hit the right notes, it ultimately achieves its goal. Much like the novel turned movie, it’s unique, entertaining, and full of highs and lows.
Not every song packs a punch, but the opening track and single ‘This is Gospel’ starts the album off with a bang. The verses are brought to life by an eccentric vocal performance by Urie that’s tweaked with a vocoder-- but rather than take away from the experience, it actually makes it more interesting. It manages to keep the listener hooked as it leads into the soaring chorus which is graced with Urie’s natural singing voice. Drummer and longtime member Spencer Smith is also quite impressive and his skillful use of percussion adds that extra kick to the track. The same can be said for the first single of the album, ‘Miss Jackson’. It’s not as strong as the first track, but Smith’s work behind the kit is the real highlight. Much like the rest of the album, both songs also seem to have a little 80‘s influence thrown in, but it’s so subtle that it works better than one might expect.
Unfortunately, the album is not without its dull moments and they ultimately weaken the experience. ‘Vegas Lights’ and 'Girls/Girls/Boys’ are easily the biggest duds and the choruses are just too damn repetitive and uninspired to be taken seriously. However, every time the band falls down, they pick themselves back up, and songs like ‘Nicotine’ are so addicting that you’ll soon forgive the album for its flaws. The closing track ‘The End of All Things’ is also enjoyable and quite an unexpected way to end the album. The unique combination of the piano and Urie’s enhanced vocal-effects makes for quite a soothing, almost therapeutic listen.
For an album that borrows its name from the drug-crazed Hunter S. Thompson novel, one might expect a bit more of a thrill ride than Panic’s latest effort is able to deliver. At times, it’s a mixed bag of an album-- but for the most part it manages to intrigue and there are enough great jams to make it an album worth checking out. It’s also nice to know that even though they don’t always knock the ball out of the park, Panic is still willing to try something new with each and every release.