Broadway brings out the best
Panic! At The Disco rose to the top of the mid-2000s emo wave relatively quickly. Led by then 18-year old frontman Brendon Urie’s talented vocals, the Las Vegas quartet first broke through with the irresistible “I Write Sins Not Tragedies.” As the band’s career progressed, however, Urie and the other band members couldn’t quite agree stylistically on the band’s future sound. The rock sound slowly began to diminish in favor of Urie’s preferred pop sound, especially with 2013s Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die!, which tapped into massive hip-hop influences. Suddenly in 2016, Urie found himself as the only remaining member of the band, which led him to release the ensuing album, Death of A Bachelor, which is ostensibly a solo pop album. Urie then turned his vocal talents to the bright lights of Broadway, spending the summer of 2017 performing the lead role in Kinky Boots. Now in 2018, Urie has returned to the Panic project and has released a new album called Pray For The Wicked.
One word can simply describe the album’s general vibe: bombastic. Urie already knew how to write a good pop song, as proven on the band’s previous releases, but there’s a new theatrical and whimsical flair to his songwriting. The pop sounds are still there, but now Urie has added a backing horn section à la old school R&B, as well as strings, to go with the funky clean guitars and electronic drums to create a fun mix of retro and modern.
Urie’s vocals are (of course) the shining star, as he taps into the highest and lowest reaches of his range. Lead single “Say Amen (Saturday Night), is a perfect example of the bouncy theatrics, gravitating between the massive horn-laden choruses and auto-tuned verses. Another great track is the aptly named “Roaring Twenties,” which channels swing from that era, as well as the guitar-driven “The Overpass,” and the funky “High Hopes,” which contains the biggest hook. Closing out the festivities is the much darker “Dying in LA,” which is a powerful piano ballad with soaring strings in the chorus. It’s a beautiful end to the otherwise nonstop party.
He may not write sins or tragedies anymore, but Urie’s fun lyrics and poppy choruses, combined with his arrangement skills and vocal stylings, prove his Broadway stint did nothing more than boost his already strong writing to create a damn entertaining product.