Vices & Virtues – Panic! At the Disco

Release year: 2011

Rating: 6.5/10

I’ve always loved Panic! At the Disco’s debut album A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out. Whenever I’m feeling down or just want something fun to let loose to, it’s one of the albums I put on. I wasn’t necessarily a huge fan of theirs; I just thought their songs were insanely catchy and managed to put me in a good mood. I didn’t like their second album at all and I never bothered to check out anything they’ve released after, especially since Brandon Urie is the remaining original member. Well, I wanted something fun, feel good, and danceable, similar to their first LP. I decided to give their third album a chance knowing the band has changed significantly over the past 10 years. So, did it satisfy my craving?

I never went into the album expecting to find the same vibe and sound as their first album. But I was pleasantly surprised to hear a few songs reminiscent of that sound. The opening track “The Ballad of Mona Lisa” reminds me the most of that era with the creepy, twinkling music and mysterious lyrics. The whole thing manages to be really whimsical and odd and the music actually reminded me of The Nightmare Before Christmas. Though it does get kind of bland during the chorus, the song still has that great upbeat dance vibe that made their old material so much fun. “Let’s Kill Tonight” is another track with that old P!ATD sound. It’s really energetic with an 80s electro synth that’ll get you moving. The synth pop is what lured me to the song; it just puts you in a good mood when you hear it. It’s one of those quirky songs that’s fun to listen to.

I was actually surprised by how many songs I enjoyed from the album. “Sarah Smiles” is a pretty sweet song written about Urie’s wife. It has this old world, carnival feel to it when it starts. Just think of gypsies around a musical cart with someone playing accordion. During the second verse the music shifts to a Latin flavor with blaring horns. It’s a nice song even though it’s a bit cheesy. If it wasn’t for all the shifts and the weird children’s choir “Nearly Witches” would’ve been my favorite song from the album. Finally, here is a song with the weird music and dance vibe that I’ve been craving. I was really into it until the hook. Everything about the song is really upbeat and fast, so it’s confusing why they decide to slow things down during the hook. It’s such a disappointment. Not to mention that it ends with the same children’s choir and kind of kills the song.

While the rest of the album wasn’t bad, it didn’t do much for me. Most of the songs seemed too familiar or generic. “Hurricane” has an interesting shuffling beat that’ll get your hips moving, which makes the lyric of “You’ll dance to anything” kind of ironic. The thing that kills it for me are the lyrics: “Hey! Hey! We are a hurricane!/Drop our anchors in a storm./Hey! They will never be the same/A fire in a flask to keep us warm.” It sounds like he’s trying to be clever, but comes off kind of dumb instead. Another instance of this is on “Trade Mistakes” when he sings “I am an anchor/sinking her.” It’s one of those lines that seems meaningful and smart when you’re in high school, but later realize how cheesy and laughable it sounds. “Memories” tries to be too sentimental and seems like a Vampire Weekend song, while “Ready to Go” feels like standard pop-punk flare. The same goes for the tracks “The Calendar” and “Always.” Again, they’re not terrible, just not that interesting.

I was pretty pleased with the album overall. There was never a point where I wanted to turn it off and throw out the CD like with their second effort. A handful of songs are great and took me back to those good ol’ P!ATD days. Most of the other songs are decent and have a good dancing beat, but they ended up sounding like other pop-punk songs out there. What made P!ATD so much fun was how weird, wonderful, and whimsical their music was. Those elements are missing for a good portion of this album. Even though it wasn’t as bad as I thought, it’s clear the band have moved on from the sound I fell in love with. And that’s just fine. I’ll at least have my copy of their debut.

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