Panic! At the Disco hit the music scene in the mid-2000’s when Fall Out Boy was one of the most popular bands on the planet. Basically, every other band that came out at the time sounded like them. It seems like Panic! did their best to separate themselves from the crowd, which leads to catchy and confusing results. Their debut album is full of catchy dance songs, but also confusing lyrics about topical issues, such as alcoholism, prostitution, and religion.
The first thing you’ll notice about the album is the band wants you to dance. A lot of the songs have fast guitars mixed in with electronic beats that make you want to move and groove. Most of the song’s lyrics make this clear since they constantly tell you to “dance to this beat” or get on the dance floor. Their music is definitely interesting because it mixes in a lot of different sounds and genres. The track “Intermission” sounds like video game music from the Party Monster video game before it turns into weird silent film era piano music. “But it’s Better if You Do” has a cabaret feeling with the piano playing, but distorted guitars are still heard in the background. Most of the time this mixture yields a pleasing result, but other times not so much.
The bad thing about Panic!’s music is that they try to do so much in one song. Because there are so many styles and sounds incorporated into their music sometimes it can be a bit too much. At times it’s even distracting. It’s as if they were trying to make themselves some rock/disco/dance band and pulled music from all of these genres to express that. The track “There’s a Good Reason…” is another cabaret inspired song, but during the bridge it switches to swing style with the big band horns. It can work, but sometimes it makes you utter “what the hell are they doing here?”
The songs themselves are pretty catchy. “…Martyrdom and Suicide…” has a cool mix of electronic music during the bridge along with rock guitars and booming drums. It’s another song that makes you want to dance. This is basically what all the songs make you want to do, which means the album can be tiring towards the end since the songs start sounding the same. “I Constantly Thank God…” has Latin inspired music that of course is danceable and the popular “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” follows the same guidelines.
One thing that becomes painfully clear here is how the band tries way too hard to stand out. A lot of the songs deal with social issues, but most of the time you don’t notice this. “Build God, Then We’ll Talk” seems to be about adultery and scandalous affairs, but the message is lost in the catchy music and odd singing style. This also happens in the song “Time to Dance.” This one may be about sensationalized death stories in the media, but again I’m not completely sure. It’s as if the band wanted to separate themselves from the other bands at time, which is not bad, but they went about it all wrong.
Though they try to comment on social issues or try to be really clever most of the time they miss the mark. Also, it seems like they break the fourth wall at times, which can really throw off the listener. On the song, “Lying is the Most Fun…” there’s a line that goes “Did you really think I’d let you kill this chorus.” It’s weird because the rest of the song has nothing to do with this line. There are only a few times when their commentary makes sense. The track “London Beckoned Songs…” seems to be a message to their critics and haters that they don’t care what you say about them, they don’t pay attention anyway. Also, their song titles are painfully long and have nothing to do with the songs.
Overall, the album gets 7/10. You can’t blame the band for trying to be unique, but when you listen to the album in one sitting it’s clear that they were trying way too hard. But the songs are catchy nonetheless even though the lyrics can be confusing. It may not be the best album you’ve ever heard, but it’s good if you’re in the mood to dance and sing. Even though the songs may be head scratching, the band did manage to make them stand out during a time when everyone was a clone of Fall Out Boy.