By Neil Manning
Earlier this year, Panic! At The Disco’s (P!ATD) sophomore album, Pretty. Odd had its 10 year anniversary. This album compared to their first is very obviously jarring. Looking at Pretty. Odd in the whole context of their current discography is somehow even more out of place.
P!ATD’s first album, “A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out,” is mostly emo rock or punk rock mixed with some elements from alternative and baroque pop. This album had success with “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” being the huge hit, a song that people still recognize instantly. With Pretty. Odd the band decides to take the baroque pop idea and make that the spine of the album.
The opening song, “We’re So Starving” is a bit ironic considering the lyrics. “You don’t have to worry cause we’re still the same band.” They talk about being gone for so long, but they were writing songs for the fans. While they are the same band, this album is going to be completely different than the album before. Ryan Ross wrote this song in a McCartney-like way bridging it to the next song, and lead single, “Nine In The Afternoon.”
The album art, which looks like a storybook cover for children, is the perfect way to describe this album. A lot of the songs on the album have a whimsical feel to them and the lyrics feel like stories. A good example of this is “When The Day Met The Night,” a song about the moon falling in love with the sun. It uses orchestra during the verses and bridge, but once it get to the chorus, it becomes much more punchy with horns coming it and hitting hard. The lyrics go through the sun and moon talking about the love that they have.
This album also explores into the psychedelic rock, blending the elements with folk and classic rock sounds. “The Piano Knows Something I Don’t Know” does this by starting out with vocals and orchestra, similar to “Strawberry Fields Forever.” From there it goes to a more upbeat song using horns and an electric guitar to drive the middle of the song. It goes back to the style of the beginning to finish off the song.
While looking through the songwriting for this album, I was most surprised by the two sole writing credits for Brendon Urie. His two songs on the album, “I Have Friends In Holy Spaces” and “Folkin’ Around,” are nothing like the music he is putting out now, as these albums are more of a folk sound and don’t sound like pop in the slightest. The former of the two songs leads into the heart of the album.
“Northern Downpour” is a song I like to think of as P!ATD’s “Let It Be” or “Hey Jude.” It starts off with a single guitar, vocals come in, then the rest of the instruments. This song is the best written song on the album and probably could have been their big hit had they released it as the lead single. The vocals from Urie and Ryan Ross put the song at a whole new level. As the song ends, it has various verses being sung at the same time giving the song that grand feel that “Hey Jude” has.
This album doesn’t seem to fit in the context P!ATD’s career, but it’s a good thing it’s there. Before their next album came out, two of the members had left the band. Now, Urie is currently the only member of the band. With Pretty. Odd it’s like the band took a detour on the career, and went back to their route afterwards. Looking on it 10 years later, it’s aged well, and hopefully has a bit more appreciation.