Panic! At The Disco – “Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die!” [Album] (2013)

Throughout the band’s short but storied nine year history, Las Vegas based pop-punk band Panic! At The Disco have experienced their fair share of ups and downs.

Exploding onto the scene like their fellow Vegas contemporaries, The Killers; Panic! made their mark in the latter part of the 2000s by releasing three dramatically different albums: 2005’s A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out, 2008’s Pretty. Odd. and 2011’s Vices & Virtues. However, their success was not without its pitfalls. The band underwent numerous lineup changes between albums, with the largest coming a few months after the release of their Beatles-inspired 2008 album Pretty. Odd. that resulted in founding member Ryan Ross and bassist Jonathan Walker leaving the band. With each passing release, Panic! became a dramatically different band (both musically and literally), and their newest release, Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die! is no exception.

Shortly before work began on this album, original drummer Spencer Smith released a public letter to the fans detailing his five year struggle with prescription drug and alcohol addiction and his intention to go into rehab. With Spencer unable to fully contribute to the recording process, vocalist Brendon Urie stepped in the driver’s seat, taking over much of the responsibility in crafting the latest album, and the results do not disappoint.

For the third straight time, P!ATD has managed to craft an album that holds little or no resemblance to the previous album before it. Gone are the Steam-Punk inspirations from Vices & Virtues, and in their place are ten glossy and well-constructed tracks that vary wildly from track to track. Instead, inspired by the hip-hop “there is no rules” mantra, Brendon Urie has crafted a solid modern-pop album that may be the most confident sounding Panic! record in years. Fans of the band’s earlier works will be happy to see the return of the glossy synths and drum machines that made up Fever but should be aware that those welcome re-additions are as far as the similarities go on the new record. Instead, fans should expect an album with a ton of variety, with 80’s synth-pop influences that play up the band’s electronic roots that were missing on the band’s 2008 record Pretty. Odd.

While some reviewers have stated that the album could be considered a “back to the roots” album, Too Weird To Live stands on its own two feet. Standout tracks like “This Is Gospel,” “Miss Jackson,” “Nicotine,” “Girls/Girls/Boys” and “Casual Affair” sell the album’s dance-pop sensibilities and make the album indeed its own beast.

The album is, of course, not perfect, and some problems exist along the way (most notably, the mixing being an issue on some of the later and busier tracks). Still, they are only minor imperfections in an otherwise decent record that won’t disappoint longtime fans of the band. Panic! as a band may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for those looking for a fun and high-energy modern-pop record, you’ll find all you need and more Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die!

Derek Oswald:

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