Panic at the Disco - Pretty. Odd.
Record Label: Decaydance / Fueled by Ramen
Release Date: March 25, 2008
Panic at the Disco’s brand of image heavy, angst ridden, novelty pop is officially no longer their “whole gimmick!” Rejoice! The band that has grown world famous for this schtick has chosen to abandon its sound (and fans) by crafting this year’s most derivative, yet oddly original piece of music in our scene. With bands like The Early November and The Starting Line realizing that pop punk is only fun when you’re fifteen, Panic are taking the ball and running with it. Pretty. Odd. is a courageous, ambitious ode to musical growth.
While Ryan Ross’ lyrics never really impressed those who could see through their oh-so-colorful metaphors, (“Now I get it, he’s the moon, and the girl is the sun. Duh!") when Brendon Urie sings them, all is forgiven. Choosing not to focus on getting every last word in every cluttered line like he did on A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out, Urie’s melodies on Pretty. Odd. grab the listener’s attention while horns and strings support a much fuller sound. Take "When the Day Met the Night," an orchestral, folkloric opus, in which Urie’s vocals shine, but do not overshadow the rich arrangements behind them. Melody is the focus of many of the albums best moments, like the surprising chorus of "She's a Handsome Woman," where the listener is starting to be won over by this album.
Highlights of arrangement are “Behind the Sea,” “She Had the World,” and "The Piano Knows Something I Don't Know." Panic have discovered the secret of making music that is still infectious enough to be classified pop, but interesting enough to have lasting power. The achievements in the studio color this album with creative idea after creative idea (see claps in “Behind the Sea,” organ in “She Had the World,” and brass in “When the Day Met the Night”). This is what makes Pretty. Odd. special, this is why Panic is better than Fall Out Boy, and this is why anyone who has written Panic off as “not for them,” (an understandable distinction) should give this band a second chance. Their creativity is countless.
Far from perfect, Pretty. Odd. maintains moments of pretension, such as the presumptuous closer, “Mad As Rabbits,” in which the album ends with the repeating of “We must reinvent love.” In addition, “We’re So Starving” and “Nine in the Afternoon” hold the disc back from realizing its true potential as far as topic and musical variety goes. For those that claim Pretty. Odd. is lacking in singles, I believe any of these songs could work. After all, Panic tend to reinvent themselves with each new video anyway.
Panic had a reputation in the scene for being “different,” and a reputation outside of the scene for being “just like everyone else.” The true triumph of this album is that they actually cross genres (pop folk in “Folkin’ Around, psychedelic orchestra-pop in “Behind the Sea,” and old-timey ukulele-pop in “I Have Friends in Holy Spaces”), unlike scene impostors like My Chemical Romance, Cobra Starship, Angels and Airwaves, and previously, Panic! at the Disco. If only more bands would follow the lead set by The Format, An Angle, and now Panic, and move on to a sound worth exploring, it might lead to some credibility, or even better, a more critical filter on the bands that warrant success and attention. At least this time, they’ve earned it.
Good review, but I'm not exactly sure how they go from distinclty derivitive to creative and a classic? Copying the sounds of others is both derivitive and unique? Still, I loved the album though not nearly as much as AFYCSO, despite the hype.
You didn't mention the Beatles, really uninformed and immature review.
I'm pretty sure that the "Recommended if you like: " section includes "Revolver." I think it's fine to review this album for what this album is, without constantly calling the parallels to the Beatles into view. Obviously there are similarities, but I think we're all pretty over reviews of this album where the reviewer harps on Beatles tendencies the whole time. I get it, there are similarities. It's been said. I like this review the most of any I've read yet; it presents an honest review of the album, it's discussed for what it is on its own, which most reviews have ignored more than not.