It’s always been hard to quantify Panic! At The Disco. They’re not really a rock band. They’re definitely not pop-punk. Based on the current definition of ‘pop’, looking at the typical chart fare, they certainly don’t fit in with that either. However, whatever they are, I don’t think anyone minded when Ryan Ross left and they stopped doing that Beatles rip-off shit. And after the work of genius that Vices and Virtues was, it seemed almost impossible that they’d be able to top it.
But they did.
Admittedly, Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die! didn’t seem it was going to be a huge hit at first. Lead single ‘Miss Jackson’, was a huge departure, even for P!ATD, sounding too similar to Fall Out Boy’s ‘My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark’ to be a coincidence. It didn’t quite have P!ATD’s usual charm, either, and stands as the weakest song on the record. Thankfully, following single ‘This Is Gospel’ seemed far more promising, with a blinder of a chorus and a very fun video, carrying just the right level of quirkiness that we’ve come to adore P!ATD for. However, Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die! is far more mature than any of their other records. Fuelled by a love of 80s synthpop, tracks like ‘The Vegas Lights’ and ‘Girls/Girls/Boys’ won’t fail to get you dancing with their tales of Vegas style hedonism, whereas ‘Nicotine’, my personal favourite, is every bit as infectious as ‘Camisado’ or ‘Time To Dance’. Everything goes on this record, and any ill-founded doubt that may have been in place over the lyrics after Ross’s departure are firmly blown away, as P!ATD get deep as well as sexy. None of it is particularly complex, but in this, lies its brilliance, much like its predecessor.
It’s worth noting that Brendon Urie’s vocals have never been more accomplished than on this record; while he’s always been an incredible singer and a true frontman, he’s given free reign on this record to experiment with a number of different styles and he never seems out of his depth. It seems that adding Dallon Weekes as a permanent member of the band was an excellent decision too, as this record is funky as. There’s basslines here so filthy that you need two showers straight after listening to them. Spencer Smith is as solid and skilled as ever – despite the album’s heavy electric influence, there isn’t an overreliance on programmed drums, and it’s impossible to listen to the album without noticing a clever fill or a pounding and commanding rhythm.
While Panic! At The Disco might have always had the free reign to do what they want, Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die! is more bold and brilliant than I ever could have imagined. Ten tracks is all they need to steal your heart. Don’t be afraid to let them.
5 out of 5 high fives!