Death Of A Bachelor

Panic At The Disco

Atlantic, 2016

http://www.panicatthedisco.com/

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 01/26/2016

Gaudy, glitzy, party-hearty and even a little bit moving, Death Of A Bachelor is a flat-out substance-free concept pop album, with far more emphasis on pop and less on emo than ever before.

The album is Brendon Urie’s ode to himself and all the other men who partied their asses off, then wised up, sobered up and found what really mattered in life once they got married, even if they still look back fondly on the old days sometimes. Urie is the only original member of the band left and plays pretty much all the instruments, which perhaps accounts for the musical shift and also makes this seem like a vanity project.

Intentionally, Urie channels Queen in the album’s theatrical moments, ladling handclaps, multi-tracked vocals and gaudy beats over every single song (“Emperor’s New Clothes” is hilariously awful in this regard; evidently, Urie thinks “Flash” was the greatest Queen song ever recorded). The problem is that Urie reads Queen the same way Adam Lambert did, but where Lambert still has heart and can look a little deeper than the Vegas strip, Urie doesn’t quite reach those heights as a singer or songwriter. Plus, he sounds a bit like Lambert, which is off-putting on first listen. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

To his credit, the lyrics are not subtle (befitting the themes) but pretty funny, especially on “Don’t Threaten Me With A Good Time” (“How’d we get in my neighbor’s pool upside down?”), throughout the first four songs, which basically are all various takes on how to drink, carry on, cause trouble, get hungover, and do it all again, all set to a variety of overdubs and random samples (the B-52’s and Chicago among them).

Urie then shifts gears abruptly with the title track, which sounds like Tom Jones trying to be hip and modern. In interviews, the band has said they were channeling Queen and Sinatra into this one, but Urie’s dead-serious attempt here, plus the “hip” swing tune “Crazy=Genius” – an attempt at an autobiography that falls flat, even if it’s fun – make him sound more like a classic Vegas entertainer than anything else. “The Good, The Bad And The Dirty” has a sort of hip-hop beat that doesn’t quite work either, but “L.A. Devotee” is both well-written and evocative of its titular town.

The first 10 songs all whiz by in a colorful, Vegas-strip blur rife with overdubs, enhancements and collaborations. It will sound great in a club or blaring from a summer radio (January maybe wasn’t the best release date). However, the closing song is a flat-out nightclub ballad with horns, the kind Urie imagines Sinatra singing. Only he’s no Sinatra, and his attempt is just a little goofy. For some reason, it sounds to me like the hidden track on Stone Temple Pilots’ 1994 album Purple, where a fan of the band got to sing the “12 Gracious Melodies” in his corniest, most Vegas-entertaining voice as a lark, and I couldn’t help but laugh through most of the song.

Death Of A Bachelor has some great lines, some catchy songs, and it’s a lot of fun, but like all parties in Vegas, the glimmer and facade falls away in the harsh light of day.

Rating: C

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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