Panic At The Disco "Vices & Virtues" Review

by - Thursday, April 07, 2011

When reviewing albums for this blog, I like to try and jot down my feelings about each track as I listen to it the very first time.However, sometimes when it is a band I have particular affections for, or it is a comeback album, I like to live with it for a little while, rather than making any rash decisions. So I shall apologise now for my ridiculously biased approach, but plan to be as objective as possible as I go on to discuss my latest object of affections, Panic At The Disco's "Vices & Virtues."

Following the phenominal success of their debut with the dubiously recieved Beatles homage that was "Pretty. Odd.", it was fair to say that I didn't really know what to expect from Panic, especially considering that they'd since lost two of their members.However, I am pleased to say that V&V delivers just enough elements from both albums to keep fans happy. Sarah Smiles is a lovely musical nod to the "I Write Sins..." days whilst retaining the lyrical imagery favoured by Ryan Ross (which is impressive considering he's no longer in the band), with it's shuffling beats, imaginative percussion and swooning backing vocals. Always, my personal highlight, benefits greatly from a more stripped back approach, allowing Urie's vocal gymnastics to breathe freely without battling against synthesizers.Almost all of the instrumentation is his and it fast becomes apparent, tracks such as Ready To Go and Trade Mistakes relying almost solely on his trademark vocals and playful delivery. Whilst a testament to his talent, the variety of sonics isn't quite as apparent as on previous albums, which may be a dissapointment considering the time taken to produce this third effort.

However, things aren't all bad in Panic camp. Whilst they may be suffering from "If it ain't broke..." syndrome, Memories and Hurricane (which sounds suspiciously like The Great Escape by Boys Like Girls) are surefire fan favourites in the making and they know it, noted in the rougishly satirical refrain "you'll dance to anything". Memories also gains bonus points in my book for a nice reference to A Streetcar Named Desire. Whoever said nerdy lyrical references were only allowed in Indie?

 If we are talking production, I would argue that it is a little overbearing in places, but this seems a hypocritical thing to say when we are talking about a band such as Panic At The Disco who thrive on complicated instrumentation. The split personality influence of Nearly Witches is probably the albums more traditional highlight, erratic and unpredictable (in a good way), having gained so much more intrigue from the version demoed on the Fall Out Boy mixtape back in 09. It's their stab at arena glory, and the first sign of true uniqueness from the album.

So, the diagnosis? Catchy, and very liable to be a grower. Whilst long term fans will love it (me included),only half the tracks grab upon the very first listen, which is dodgy territory to be in when there are so many pop punk bands around for casual listeners to turn to. The fact remains that Panic are incredibly talented with a lot of ideas, that sadly, often aren't harnessed as sucessfully as intended, or are confused in an overzealous mix.If you're looking for a shot of pop punk, this may be worth a listen, but test it out on headphones rather than tinny laptop speakers. You'll be glad you did.


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