Review Summary: Catchiness can't make up for a lack of substance.
There is no doubt that Brendon Urie is a talented man. With an impressive vocal range, he has always been a respectable singer throughout his early work with Panic! At the Disco. However, there comes a point where self-aware talent leads to pretentiousness, and unfortunately for listeners, this album just about reaches that point.
The album surely has its high points with tracks such as 'This is Gospel' and 'Nicotine' where Urie not only shows off his great vocals, but shows the world how capable he is at making music that stays in your head for days. In fact, just about every song from the album is catchy in its own way, which I suppose is something to be proud of. However, there are few songs that represent any sort of emotional substance, which is ultimately disappointing. The only song that comes close to any sort of emotional meaning is the slow, soulful last track: 'The End of All Things.' Even though the song has an impressive piano melody throughout, the song is too repetitive and relies too heavily on distorted vocals for it to be very memorable. While you could argue that songs like 'The End of All Things' at the very least attempted to be emotionally resonant, there are poorly written tracks on the album like 'Girls/Girls/Boys' and 'Vegas Lights' that feel as if about ten minutes of songwriting went into them. Hearing Urie sing about sex and Vegas is getting a bit old and repetitive, and judging by the quality of the two songs previously mentioned, it might be time for him to experiment with different themes.
One of the album's biggest flaws, however, is its length. Clocking in at just barely over 30 minutes, this would have been better off as an EP. Sure there are less people nowadays who electronically purchase music (as piracy rates steadily increase over time), but I feel bad for anyone who spent the standard $9.99 on this album. For fans of the band who anticipated this album for two years, I cannot imagine how the length of it would be satisfying.
Once again, Panic! At the Disco is obviously a talented band. But when a band with so much potential for creative melodies and meaningful songwriting wastes time on an insultingly short album with little more than catchiness to offer, it can't help but feel like a disappointment. It's as if the band realized the ease at which they could make money and used this album as nothing more than a quick paycheck. One can only hope that things improve in the albums to come.
This Is Gospel, Nicotine, Casual Affair