String Tributes are a pretty common thing nowadays. Several artists, worthy and unworthy of such praise like The Beach Boys
, Massive Attack
, and System of a Down
, all have at least one of these tributes to file on their resume (System of a Down actually has about four of them, the most of any artist so far). The quality of these tributes generally varies, from the bad (Fall Out Boy
), to the horrible (The Mars Volta
), to the decent (No Doubt
). Of all of the String Quartet Tributes out there, Strung Out on Panic! At the Disco
ranks up there relatively high.
The main advantage of this tribute compared to The Mars Volta tribute for instance, is that Panic! At the Disco
uses relatively basic and simple instrumental rhythms in their music. This translates well to the stringed versions of the songs because absolutely none of the melody is lost in the song, something that’s quite uncommon for String Quartet Tributes. It also helps that singer Brendan Urie composes most of the vocal melodies around relatively basic melodic structuring, which allows for the stringed instruments to translate the vocal melodies quite easily. As opposed to previous efforts, The String Quartet often decided to focus solely on duplicating the instrumentals, but in the case of this tribute, they attempt to transcribe the vocal melodies and it works out quite well.
Although the entire album is translated relatively well, the more straightforward pop-rock side of the album tends to fare better when given the string treatments, while the experimental side utilizes too much experimentation on the original recording to the point where the string version of the song is just not different enough to warrant as much of an improvement as the more straight forward tracks. Unfortunately, the constantly shifting vocals of I Constantly Thank God For Esteban
and its schizophrenic feel make its translation impossible to enjoy. It really loses some originality with the lack of flamenco guitar throughout, and the ever changing vocal harmony make this one probably one of the harder to translate, and unfortunately it shows, bringing down the end of the album to almost mediocrity.
Unfortunately, as with any “cover”, for want of a better term, especially a cross-genre one such as this, much of the original impact of the songs is lost. On the practically epic pop number Time to Dance
, the strings just do not do a good job of translating the synth line and it severely detracts from the quality of that song. Thankfully though, the vocal melody is pretty much spot on with the actual song, and the strings actually do an excellent job of translating it, which essentially saves it from becoming just another slaughtered masterpiece at the hands of the String Tribute.
One missing element from the tribute, although it seems like an obvious term when it comes to listening to the album, is the lack of Brendan Urie’s unique vocal styling and the fun and witty lyricism that the band is so well known for. Without the killer hooks such as What a wonderful caricature of intimacy
or Have some composure/where is your posture?/oh no, no
, its hard to really be hooked like the original version, and with that comes another negative aspect of the album.
For what its worth, the String Quartet Tribute to Panic! at the Disco is an interesting listen. Its more than likely the best String Quartet tribute so far and is a nice addition to the collect of a fan who is looking for a new spin on the songs they originally fell in love with. Although the lack of lyrics and some of the odd quirks that the last half of the album contains are missing, its still a fun listen on occasion, and quite a good album to relax or do homework to. Any fan of Panic! at the Disco should really give this a listen to get a new spin on an album that may have lost its appeal to some people.
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