Introduction:

Panic! At the Disco are veterans of the rock and alternative fields. Founded by lead vocalist, guitarist, and pianist/keyboardist Brendon Urie, lead guitarist, vocalist, and pianist/keyboardist Ryan Ross, drummer Spencer Smith, and bassist Brent Wilson in 2004. In 2005, the band released their debut album A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out, which features their chart-topping hit “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” and gravitated to punk rock sounds. In 2005, Urie took on bassist duties from a diminishing Wilson. In 2006, Brent Wilson departed the band and was replaced by bassist, pianist and guitarist Jon Walker. The band moved more towards a psychedelic rock flavor with their 2008 follow-up, Pretty. Odd. The band argued over whether to stay with the new sound or advance, the disagreement, mainly between Walker and Ross and Urie, leading to the departures of Ryan Ross and Jon Walker to pursue a new act featuring the psychedelic sound. Urie and Smith recruited touring member Dallon Weekes to take on bassist duty and the other responsibilities held by the two men, as Urie gave up bassist duties in 2010. In 2011, the band released their third album, which leaned heavily into pop and alternative themes, Vices and Virtues. In 2013, drummer Spencer Smith became an inactive member as the band released their fourth album To Weird to Live, To Young to Die, their first fully alternative album. In 2015, Spencer officially exited the band and Weekes announced his demotion from being a full member to returning to touring member status, as Brendon Urie took up bassist and drummer duties to become the only member of Panic! At the Disco. In 2016, they released Death of a Bachelor, which landed the band their first Grammy nomination for Best Rock Album. In 2017, Weekes exited the band in every facet. In 2018, they released their sixth studio album: Pray for the Wicked.

1. Silver Lining

The album starts with a swinging vibe as the album heralds a new Panic! band under Urie’s complete takeover of the group. The song sings of no love for silver linings to any of his tragedies as he’s now on top. The lyricism is pretty solid and the production is good. For myself, personally, this song isn’t one I’ll revisit extremely often, but it’s a solid start for what promises to be a good album.

Track Rating: 8/10

Grade: A-

2. Say Amen (Saturday Night)

The main single from the album is an anthem for the weekend. Urie’s vocals are spectacular and the songwriting is on point, with catchy rhymes and some slick references to Urie’s Mormon upbringing. The production is outstanding. This was the no-brainer for their lead single and there’s a reason for it. It’s fantastic.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A

3. Hey Look Ma, I Made It

The sleek, synthetic production underscores a well-written song about success. The horns are gorgeous. The story Urie creates is compelling, as he touches on how people want what’s next and how he’s made it in a so-called “garden of evil”. It’s a fun song that is truly infectious. It’s a song that really comes from Urie’s joy, who’s been working for years to reach this point in his career. It’s a upbeat and mellow all at once. It works well, despite somewhat retreading on themes Urie’s covered before.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A

4. High Hopes

This is an anthem for the dreamers and is my favorite from the album so far. The horns return in full force for this one as Urie sings about how when he didn’t have money or support, he had hopes and dreams. It’s a fantastic song with an absolutely great vocal performance from Urie, excellent production, and top notch songwriting. This is a Panic! At the Disco classic in the making.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

5. Roaring 20s

As we approach the second Roaring 20’s, Urie decides to capitalize off this with his own take filled with some savvy wordplay. Screechy horns and light pianos introduce a jazz-ridden tune. The vocals are outstanding once again. The songwriting reveals the truth behind Urie’s overjoyed facade of success and shows the nervous performer within. The song’s theatricality is very cool, but overall, it doesn’t quite reach the highest heights it could have.

Rating: 8/10

Track Rating: A-

6. Dancing’s Not A Crime

The song comes out swinging, presenting a summer jam that is simply infectious. Using lots of legal wordplay, Urie creates a fun tune about dancing and partying to drown out disappointment and heartache. It’s well-produced and well-written. It’s a must for your summer playlists.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A

7. One of the Drunks

Singing about orange juice early on is a nice twist. Dealing with Urie’s usual partying and alcohol tropes, it feels a little tired and played out, even for Panic! At the Disco. The production is solid, but the songwriting doesn’t quite hold up on its end. Overall, this is the weakest song of the album so far.

Track Rating: 7/10

Grade: B+

8. The Overpass

Urie’s use of jazz for this album is really cool, especially on this song. The upbeat drums mixed with the guitars and brass really works on a production level. The songwriting is also fantastic, as they create a story about painful nostalgia and relapsing into past relationships. It’s a strong song from production to songwriting to performance, and it’s particularly upbeat and fun.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A+

9. King of the Clouds

Urie layers his vocals in an a cappella open that is soon underscored by funky guitars and drums. The songwriting is pretty good as Urie sings about the feeling of being high, speaking as a recovered nicotine addict. It’s a solid performance form Urie and some really stellar production, but the songwriting doesn’t fully bring it. It’s not a bad song, just not the best of the record.

Track Rating: 8/10

Grade: A

10. Old Fashioned

Our penultimate stop on the album is particularly interesting. The unique production is super funky and reggae-influenced. The songwriting focuses on Urie’s past and reminiscing on glory days. The song is really well-written and performed. The production too is very cool and well-done. It’s another fantastic entry from Panic!

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A+

11. Dying in LA

The album ends on a slower, emotional finale. These songs are extremely rare for Panic! At the Disco, so when the come along, they’re cherished. It’s a slow song, just Urie and a piano, and it’s outstanding. His performance is beautiful and his vocals are just superb. It’s a beautiful ode to LA and dreamers. Utilizing strings, it’s an anthem for the struggling dreamers and it’s one of my favorites from their catalog. It’s a beautiful and poignant finale for their sixth installment.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

Conclusion:

While it’s not as energetic as Death of a Bachelor or as slick as To Weird to Live, To Rare to Die, Panic! At the Disco’s latest album, while not their greatest, still manages to land as a solid effort on their part. While some songs are standout, most of the album falls into the general mediocrity compared to previous work. While the first trilogy of albums is Panic! finding their footing, the new trilogy has a clear, distinctive voice and style and it’s infectious. Urie’s complete control of the band benefited the last album, but Urie’s drive to create another record quickly like left him a little stifled creatively and spinning his wheels in classic tropes; while he still managed to deliver a solid album, it’s not groundbreaking or anything particularly phenomenal. Overall, the album lands in the middle of being great and good.

Album Rating: 8.7/10

Grade: B+

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