Album Review: Panic! at the Disco, ‘Death of a Bachelor’

Written by Erin Mathis

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Since the explosive release of “Hallelujah” back in April of 2015 (the song has racked up over twenty million streams on Spotify), Panic! at the Disco fans have been eagerly awaiting the band’s next full studio album. Finally, the wait is over! Death of a Bachelor is here, and is… different — but don’t “panic,” different is good.

A recent popular criticism is that Panic’s music has become too similar-sounding to Fall Out Boy’s, the band that is often credited for Panic’s initial rise to fame. The two bands are known to be close, and even toured together for the “Save Rock and Roll Arena Tour” back in 2013, so it’s no shocker that the two bands naturally pull inspiration from one another. However, this album redirects Panic’s sound into new, experimental territory, and minus a few tracks, is a successful departure from the too-close-for-comfort FOB-sound that has many fans with their fists in the air.

Brendon Urie of Panic! at the Disco
Photo Credit: Shervin Lainez

Let’s start with a quick note on Brendon Urie’s inspiration for the album. In an interview with Alt 98.7 back in 2015, he revealed that the album draws a lot from Frank Sinatra, as well as from the legendary British rock band, Queen, who Urie has made clear of his admiration for in his brilliant on stage covers of “Bohemian Rhapsody.” These influences are obvious throughout the album — Urie of course shows off his Mercury-status vocal range, and the inclusion of jazzy brass instruments mixed with modern day sounds create something that is both fresh and enthralling.

The album is filled with stand out songs, the first one being the earliest released track: “Hallelujah”, which is anthemic, upbeat, and spreads the positive message of owning up to ones mistakes, or “sins.” Next, “Victorious,” which is a pop-filled celebration, has a made-for-radio hook and a wildly entertaining music video to go along with it.

“Don’t Threaten Me With A Good Time” is one of my personal favorites, just because it’s so, for lack of a better word, cool, like really cool. There’s a deep 70s bass line throughout it, making the song fitting for a bond movie, as well as some intricate piano which is reminiscent of Panic’s earlier work. Urie sings about a lifestyle of hard partying, with lyrics like: “Champagne, cocaine, gasoline, and most things in-between” and arguably the most clever line on the album: “I’m not as think as you drunk I am.”

Brendon Urie shave
Photo Credit: Shervin Lainez

“Golden Days” is notable for being the most rock-sounding song on the album, as it centers around guitar riffs. “The Good, The Bad And The Dirty” definitely comes off as “dirty” with a heavy, vibrating bass that is perfect for cranking up in ones car to mind-numbing levels. The lyrics are a ton of fun as well: “If you wanna start a fight, you better throw the first punch / make it a good one.”

“House Of Memories” in unique in its melody. Urie plays with high and low notes to create a peculiar almost circus-like feel for the song, which plays into the eccentric rat-a-tat-tat provided by some marching band drums. “Crazy=Genius”, on the other hand, sounds like it’s made for a broadway musical swing dance number. It’s fast-paced with lots of brass, and has lyrics that reference two of Urie’s musical idols — Beach Boy members Dennis and Brian Wilson.

“Death of a Bachelor” is entirely surprising, and lives up to the high expectations pinned on it for being the title track. It is slower in pace, with sweeping horns reminiscent of Sinatra’s era. Urie even brings out a deeper, classic tone to his voice, paying homage to the musical artist that he has reportedly admired since childhood. It gives the feel of an old jazz record with modern trap beats thrown in, a mashup of sounds that is unexpected and exciting.

Finally, the album closer, “Impossible Year,” once again brings out a bit of Sinatra in Urie’s vocals, and is a beautiful piano ballad which features slow, sweet horns. The lyrics are sorrowful: “There’s no you and me, this impossible year / only heartache and heartbreak, and gin made of tears,” and the song ends with and extended fade out that draws to a warped close, a perfect ending for an album that mixes tribute to the past with modern sounds and technology.

Death of a Bachelor Rating: 8/10