By Connor Jensen
Back in 2013, Panic! At the Disco released a single from their upcoming album entitled “Miss Jackson”, a song that showed a lot of promise for their upcoming album Too Weird to live, Too Rare to Die, scheduled to release later that year. Unfortunately, “Miss Jackson” wound up being one of the few songs on that album that was even worth listening to, as most of the album was repetitive and all around not enjoyable. However, with their latest album Death of a Bachelor, they appear to have redeemed themselves.
Much like in their third studio album, Vices and Virtues, the duo crafted an album that incorporates elements of the jazz and rock n’ roll genre while still staying true to the pop-punk elements that the band has become well-known for. The album appears to be following the lead singer, Brandon Urie, living after the end of an era of bachelorhood. The album starts with the song “Victorious,” which follows the pop-punk style of most of the previous music made by the band, while still adding in a new flair to keep the listener intrigued. The song starts with a children’s choir singing the chorus of the song, then the song bursts into a rock n’ roll fury of guitar, percussion and piano. Much like most single men of our time, Urie sees himself as victorious for maintaining his bachelor status and living life to what he sees as the fullest; hence, the title of the song. “Victorious” leads into “Don’t Threaten Me with a Good Time,” which starts with a mild variation of the guitar line from the B-52’s song “Rock Lobster”. From there, it slows to into the first verse where Urie, accompanied primarily by piano, reviews the night before, which was clearly full of party shenanigans, indicated by the fact that he woke up surrounded by strangers in his underwear. The obscurities described only increase from there, and are only regretted further along into the album.
The introduction to the next song, “Hallelujah,” is reminiscent of some of the introductions heard in Vices and Virtues: starts with an exciting jazzy introduction then horns take over and begin one of the more unique songs on the album, incorporating the use of what sounds like a chapel choir. This song describes the deception of the singer within the relationship, and many might see this song as a form of a confession or an apology to his lover for being unfaithful. Throughout, Urie shows his range while accompanied by a choir during the chorus, bringing together one of my favorite songs from the album. The mood then shifts again as the song “Emperor’s New Clothes” begins. This song serves as a shift in the mood of the overall album, as Urie begins to realize the stupidity of his actions as they jeopardized his relationship and is now suffering because of it. The title is an allusion to a popular children’s novel which shares a similar moral, making this title fitting but a little off-putting since the song has no lyrical reference to it.
With the shift of the mood in the album comes “Death of a Bachelor,” a song that Urie claims to have been inspired by Frank Sinatra. This song has a jazzy feel with a modern flair, using synthesizer along with an ensemble of horns to create the centerpiece of the album. The death of a bachelor could also be rephrased as marriage, and this song is touching on his recent marriage, which ended the life he once knew and began a new era. However, there are some struggles that come with this rebirth. Looking back on this previous life, Urie comes to the realization that he is slightly off-kilter in “Crazy=Genius.” Throughout the song, the reoccurring message is “if genius was measured in insanity, I’d be a scholar.” This insanity clearly has been giving him some trouble in adjusting to this new lifestyle. This song maintains a major dependency on the horn ensemble following that is LA Devotee, which is more pop than punk, reminding the listener of songs put out by Metro Station and 3OH!3 several years back. This song is more of a commentary about the Los Angeles lifestyle and the allure of the glitter and gold; however, as the album progresses into “Golden Days” and “House of Memories,” one might assume that this song is the beginning of the doubt in the relationship, as Urie sees his partner as more drawn in by the fame than love.
“Golden Days” is reminiscent of old memories of happier times. It follows more of an alternative punk rock flair, and from hearing this song you wouldn’t be surprised to hear it’s from Panic! At the Disco. When looking back on the memories, Urie begins to question if the relationship has already had its peak and all that’s left are memories. “The Good, The Bad, and the Dirty” follows afterwards, shifting once again to the more jazz-esque style that has been interchanged throughout the songs while also maintaining the alternative rock feel that listeners are craving. This song exemplifies Urie’s internal conflict with his current relationship, and the true weight of his issue is explored in “House of Memories.” Urie is worried that the relationship he has built is only based on memories and not true passion, which appears to be the roots of his problems addressed throughout the work. The listener will see shifts within the song, however, where the tempo slows and the plague of memories of previous lovers from his previous life are becoming more of a pressing issue than if his current relationship is built on a firm foundation. In the final song of the album, “Impossible Year,” Urie is reminiscent of the year he’s had and how terrible it is without his wife. This is a beautiful closing to the album as is slows down more than any of the previous songs and taking on more of a slow blue jazz style. While expressing his regret of the year he had and looking forward towards brighter things, Urie shows his true vocal range which was showcased throughout the work, but not nearly as tastefully.
After the release of their 2013 album, I was reluctant to even touch this album. However, Death of A Bachelor delivered an array of musical talent and styles that just can’t be beat. Even if you aren’t a fan of Panic! At the Disco’s music, you’re bound to find at least one song that gets under your skin and enjoyably repeating in your head.