Panic! At The Disco have a lengthy history – they formed in Las Vegas in 2005 and since then have seen members come and go, resulting in Brendon Urie as the only official founding member on the current lineup. They may have Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz to thank for their initial discovery, but the talent they’ve displayed in the decade plus since has shown the world that they’re more than capable of standing on their own. Their fifth studio album, Death of a Bachelor, feels like it could only have come from a place as weird and electric as Vegas. Urie howling, “We’ve gotta turn up the crazy, living like a washed-up celebrity” on the opening track “Victorious” certainly sets the mood, while lyrics such as “I’m not as think as you drunk I am” (“Don’t Threaten Me With a Good Time”) are a bit garish, but effective. The whole record feels like one decadent celebration, complete with lush, layered vocals and the swell of synthesizers in all the right places. They’ve come a long way since their debut A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out, and the days of ridiculously long song titles and carnival-inspired theatrics have since been over. Fans may mourn the band’s late-2000s aesthetic, but it’s a testament to their willpower that they’ve managed to survive this long.
The album’s title track stands out as something particularly special, taking it slow at first, with Urie’s vocals backed by a chorus of horns and steady percussion. From there we move into the more up-tempo “Crazy=Genius” and “LA Devotee” before closing out with “Impossible Year”, a ballad of epic proportions if there ever was one. Indeed, every song feels larger than life, every note swelling to burst. The record never bites off more than it can chew, and it handles every tempo switch and chord change with incredible grace. Panic! At The Disco may seem like the product of a bygone era to some, the perfect “Why do they even bother anymore?” case. To that, Death of a Bachelor has an answer, but you’ll have to listen to realize it. It’s classic Panic! in so many ways, pure camp and glam even if it’s not necessarily a circus anymore. It’s also a breath of fresh air for fans that have been following them since the very beginning. More to the point, this band is here to stay, and we should all be thankful that they get to prove themselves to us once again.