Review Summary: While this doesn't quite warrant a 'Hallelujah', it's 'Victorious' in its own right and celebrates Urie as a convincing pop-star.
When the opening bars of 'Victorious' kick things off, it's difficult to avoid the heart-sinking anticipation of another middle-of-the-road radio-pop record following 2013's Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die!
(edit: Too Bland To Care About!
). This is not quite the case however. Be under no illusions, Panic! are in no way reinventing the wheel here, but they'll be damned if anyone's going to stop them having a laugh.
Death of a Bachelor
is a theatrical mash of modern pop, never quite sure of whether it wants to be on the stage or the radio, but conversely never lacking in confidence.
Even the two slower tracks have an unwavering sense of triumph about them, as if accompanying a Sunday-morning hangover: the Saturday night was all excess and stupidity but you have time now to bask in the fragments of positive memories.
While that last sentence may seem dismissive, it's meant in the best possible way - the songs here are party earworms in the best respect, perfect in the moment, non-cohesive, maniacal and fun (even if they don't necessarily stand up to scrutiny). Urie's lyrics toe the line between playful arrogance, hedonism and MySpace-era attention-seeking, which may not be anything new in the Panic! repertoire, but when they so rarely show any signs of taking themselves seriously, they successfully avoid being sneering and obnoxious. Ultimately, this is why the record succeeds. There are no ulterior messages to take away from it, no subtleties that sneak up on you in the vein of A Fever You Can't Sweat Out
, and while Urie doesn't at any point convince that he's the unhinged party animal that he writes himself to be, one suspects being the background to the party is more than sufficient for him.
The 808-backed 'big-band-lite' of the title track is disarmingly catchy and suits the vocals to a tee - even Urie's falsetto sounds perfect here, whereas elsewhere on the record the extra strain he puts on his voice can be hit-and-miss.
'Crazy=Genius' is probably the most outwardly daft slice on display here, the instrumental sounding inescapably like a chase scene from The Emperor's New Groove, but when coupled with the pompous vocals it is just a delight.
Unfortunately, the Fall Out Boy comparisons continue to haunt: where more than the odd passage could easily have been woven into their label-mates American Beauty/American Psycho
(seriously, the writing and sampling on 'Don't Threaten Me With A Good Time' echo 'Uma Thurman' FAR too brazenly), P!ATD frustratingly paint themselves into a corner.
This album is an undeniably fun pop record, and whilst there are far too few surprises and maybe one too many 'oh-oh-oh' choruses on offer here, it's an enjoyable and silly listen. Maybe Panic! are Too Weird To Die