Death of a Bachelor by Panic! At the DiscoCultureMusicAlbum reviews
Over the past few years and their most recent trio of albums, Panic! At the Disco frontman Brendon Urie has found himself at the centre of an ever-expanding nimbus of departing bandmates and touring members. Perhaps this mercurial roster has confused Urie’s musical direction for, like a compass held between strong magnets, Panic!’s fifth studio album Death of a Bachelor veers wildly between styles as disparate as hip-hop, Ratpack swing and, of course, the emo-pop that is synonymous with their sound.
Thematically, Death of a Bachelor is less jumbled, largely charting a familiar course for Panic! fans. Whether it’s the sneering, straining vocals of Don’t Threaten Me with a Good Time, the angsty and honest lyrics of Golden Days or the weighty chords of Crazy = Genius, Panic! are still catering to a generation who are ironically unique in just how misunderstood they are. Although this material certainly doesn’t tread new ground, it is undeniably catchy – Hallelujah, in particular, with its clap-your-hands beat and riotously pretentious lyrics (“being blue is better than being over it” is a highlight). In a similarly self-absorbed vein, Urie also takes shots at the mainstream through the pop riffs of LA Devotee, which wouldn’t sound out of place on a Taylor Swift album.
In contrast to material that seems comfortable to retread earlier Panic! works like 2013’s Miss Jackson, the other standout track here is the eponymous Death of a Bachelor. Eschewing the bombast and racing energy found throughout Panic!’s better known tracks, Death of a Bachelor instead mashes up laid-back hip-hop bass with saxophones and crooning vocals in a refreshingly downtempo number. (Although Urie cites Sinatra as a key influence for this album, Michael Bublé is probably a closer approximation.)
These highlights aside, however, Death of a Bachelor never quite shines. Although Panic! At the Disco are still an undoubtedly powerful force (the album released at Number 1 in the US Billboard 200 Album Chart) and are followed by countless fans of their definitive emo and pop-rock sound, the group’s latest effort fails to break new ground and isn’t brilliant enough to warrant resting on its musical laurels.
Death of a Bachelor is released on 15th January 2016, for further information or to order the album visit here.
Watch the video for Death of a Bachelor here: