Pretty. Odd

Panic At The Disco

Decaydance Records, 2008

REVIEW BY: Jeff Clutterbuck


God knows that The Beatles have earned their place in history, and thus have influenced generation upon generation of musicians. Listen to Top 40 radio and you will hear a trace of the Fab Four somehow, albeit ever so slight. However, it is even more refreshing to hear a band that’s obviously fallen for John, Paul, George, and Ringo, and fallen hard.

That is the case with Panic At The Disco’s latest record, Pretty.Odd (insert joke about the dropping of the exclamation mark here). Maybe their members have been living in bubbles their entire lives, or perhaps they went no further in The British Invasion than Herman And The Hermits; how they got here isn’t important right now. Suffice to say, the members of Panic apparently decided that emo-rock was not the way to go, and that Sgt. Pepper’s is the sun which the rock universe revolves around.

Let’s get the praise out of the way: I admire how Panic At The Disco completely shifted musical directions. Their previous album was nothing special, a rote – albeit energetic – emo-rock album. Given the glut of such records in the past few years, they were just one more face in the crowd amidst a my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 sea of Fall Out Boys, All-American Rejects, and My Chemical Romances. With Pretty.Odd, they have demonstrated an ability to be something different and unique, at least with the modern day context.

That being said, this album tends to sag beneath the weight of a band trying to cram as much “oomph” into every song as is humanly possible. When the Beatles wrote “A Day In The Life” and included the amazing orgasm of sound to bridge Lennon’s work and McCartney’s, it served a specific purpose. When Panic At The Disco throws everything but the kitchen sink into a track such as “ Do You Know What I’m Seeing,” one gets visual of the band screaming “LOOK AT US!!”

On the whole, the disc works much better when the proceedings take on a Let It Be, Revolver/Rubber Soul vibe than Sgt. Pepper’s. The album closer “Made As Rabbits” is a welcome approximation of Billy Preston’s contribution to “Get Back,” and while “Folkin’ Around” is a blatant attempt at rewriting “I’ve Just Seen A Face,” its sweet innocence and charm wins one over.

People tend to forget that when the Beatles went extravagant and big in their sound, they didn’t forget the key to success: write a good song. Pretty.Odd sometimes ignores that basic principle; however, there are some numbers that do work when placed on the grand stage. The leadoff, and strongest song, “Nine In The Afternoon,” benefits greatly from the layers and layers of production, to be sure, but it could easily just as work when played on an acoustic guitar in the bar down the street on karaoke night. That is the mark of a great song.

Hopefully, this album marks the start of new, continuing sound for Panic At The Disco. It took a lot of courage to release this record, defying the expectations I’m sure of radio, the label, and most importantly the fans. Pretty.Odd is not perfect, nor is it great. Give them some time to grow into this new sound, however, and Panic At The Disco might just create something that does reach that pinnacle.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2008 Jeff Clutterbuck and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Decaydance Records, and is used for informational purposes only.