by Kyle Smart
For the fans of pop-punk bands from our teen years, 2013 has been a year of returns. First we had Fall Out Boy with Save Rock and Roll in the spring, and before we knew it, Panic! at the Disco was following in line with their friends. While it has only been a couple short years since Panic!’s last record, Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die! is a return in a way.
We have the return of the high octane, the clever and unique with Panic! at the Disco’s fourth studio album. But on top of that, we have Panic! taking a note from Fall Out Boy and using many of the same sounds as well as matching genres, something we have not seen since 2005 with A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out. Now before we get any further, let’s make it clear, neither band is pop-punk anymore, and some may argue they never were, but it helps us classify that these two bands shared a similar mindset.
So getting into Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die! we can start with the initial sound of the album over all. There has been a major notice in that almost every song uses a heavy amount of synth and voice manipulation for a layer of sounds. At first, you might be upset about it because lead singer Brendon Urie’s voice has always been at the forefront of the music, now it is mixed into the song. But give it some time, and you let it sink in.
Songs like “Miss Jackson” and “This is Gospel” have the energy and clever wording we love from them, but it shows less restraint than that of the previous album that felt cautious. Panic! is slowly edging back to their original sound. Granted, it has matured, but is still Panic! at the Disco. I see it the same way I see Fall Out Boy, it’s been nearly 10 years since these bands had their iconic first sound, but they have changed, as we have, and this new sound is what they are meant to be. Influenced by hip-hop, dub step and the rise of dance and electronic music has brought these bands into this new generation.
Outside of the electric sounds, we feel and sense that this mood is centered around Las Vegas. The band’s origins root in Vegas, and they are trying to make a sound that reflects the tone of Vegas, perhaps old and new. Between “Vegas Lights” and “Girls/Girls/Boys” there is this kitschy sound that embodies the new and old and this scene of party and excitement. But then we slow it down in electric-pop washed out funk like “Far Too Young to Die” and the sweet ballad “The End Of All Things” which is Urie’s wedding vows in musical form.
Overall, the album is a mashing of poppy synths and electric vocal riffs, it’s exciting and dramatic, and occasionally it slows it down for us, and it really is everything we could want from Panic! at the Disco in 2013. This is the first solid record from the band in a long time, and will have a high replay ability, regardless of it probably not getting mainstream recognition. I will say there are a couple of tracks that are not necessary and honestly are just a little too bland. In the end though, Panic! at the Disco comes out ahead and gets an eight out of 10. Recommended Tracks: Miss Jackson, This is Gospel, Girls/Girls/Boys, The End of All Things.