Panic! at the Disco - Pray for the Wicked

Panic! at the Disco
Pray for the Wicked

Brendon Urie's transformation into a Frank Sinatra type on 2016's Death of a Bachelor was an interesting shift, but one that didn't feel all that smooth. Panic! at the Disco have never been a group, now just a single person, who did exactly what you thought they were going to. That is why this new record feels so different from their last, it's a real big swing in another direction. Half electronic, half big band and half rock and roll record Pray for the Wicked might be Urie's best since going solo. The theatrics are huge, taking big chances that pay off throughout the record. There is almost this brat pop sensibility to this record, with lyrics that are more innocent than sexy. It's not until the later tracks that the drug and drinking tropes start slipping in. "Roaring 20s" has the line "roll me like a blunt cause I wanna go home" and others that are so 2018 it's like reading a millennial twitter feed. The last album felt stuck in something old, while trying to bring that thing up to the modern. This never translated though and left Urie looking silly trying to imitate a pop style that doesn't exist anymore. This album doesn't do that anymore, it doesn't even care. You feel from the first moment of this record that Urie decided to go back to Panic!'s roots, big bold and loud. There is still an obsession with drugs that feels hollow on songs like "One of the Drunks" but it is far less a celebration of decadence and excess.

Song after song on this album is high energy and the sounds used are so modern. There are still a few theatrical elements that are over the top, like "The Overpass" which sounds like a chase scene from a Tarantino movie. There are blaring horns, percussion up the wazoo and sentiments that are pretty out there but when it all comes together it feels like a bit of a mess. There are more than a few times on this record where you feel just overwhelmed. So much noise, so much volume don't always lead to great things and there really is something to be said for subtlety. However Panic! at the Disco have never been accused of being subtle. "Dying in LA" is a song I should hate; just piano and Urie's vocal for the first part until some gentle strings start to flow in. It's a song about floundering and succeeding in a city that is full of transients and failures. It ends the album on a big emotional moment and wraps the whole thing up rather nicely. I was ready to hate this record after Death of a Bachelor but the shifts Urie has made really worked and He found his groove on this record.

8.0 out of 10


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