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It has always seemed like Panic! At The Disco have picked the genre of their next album out of a hat, writing and experimenting with anything that felt right at the time. However it was always new, it was always edgy and it was always done so well that you could never poke holes in their decision, even if you tried. Death Of A Bachelor, their fifth full length release, is certainly no exception.
Gone are the days with circus themed theatrics, flower power ballads and indie rock anthems and in their place, maturity. Despite being the only original member left, lead singer and writer Brendon Urie never let the name Panic! At The Disco fall off of anyone’s lips, promising new music and delivering an album that is not only bigger and stronger, but more interesting than the ones in its wake.
The album opens with Victorious, a track that could never be mistaken for anything but Panic!. It’s a mix of fast paced lyrics, muddy guitars and metallic drums, but it also has these really serene moments that only add to the explosion that is the chorus. It was an interesting choice for an opening track, because although it does feel reminiscent of their previous release, it is vastly different to the rest of the album. It feels like a goodbye to their old sound and as soon as Don’t Threaten Me With A Good Time – basically a punk version of a B-52’s song – comes in, you really feel that.
One of the most interesting tracks, both lyrically and musically, is Emperor’s New Clothes. Not only does it stand alone as a beautifully written, almost heart wrenching recollection of surviving abandon, it’s also a continuation of the song This Is Gospel from their last album. Death Of A Bachelor is the first album since drummer and friend Spencer Smith left the band in 2013 and these two songs tell his story in a very flattering and touching way. This Is Gospel sings, “If you love me, let me go” and Emperor’s New Clothes replies, “Welcome to the end of eras.”
The lyrics aren’t the only representation of this closing chapter, because it’s also very evident in the instrumentation. Emperor’s New Clothes starts with that same striking guitar that ends This Is Gospel, however it gets lost with the first few seconds, making way for a transformative and complicated melody, filled with distorted guitar and an ear piercing synth.
Golden Days is the true highlight of this album. The melody sparks an air of nostalgia, that poetic lyrics like, “And the clock just makes the colours turn to grey” only drive forward. There’s just something about the space in the pre-chorus and the persistence and crawl of Brendon’s vocals in the chorus that throw you into memories you’d long forgotten and leave you lost in times you thought you’d never leave behind, “I won’t let it fade away, golden days.”
There’s other notable highlights of course. LA Devotee paints a picture of California nights with a sun bitten sky, title track Death Of A Bachelor is a solemn 1940’s throwback, smooth and breathtaking with lyrics like, “Smile even though you’re sad” and Impossible Year strikes chords in the hearts of the struggling and the lonely, it’s simple, elegant and a very poignant ending to an impressive album.