Solo and soaring, Brendon Urie fronts Panic! at the Disco with the release of the band’s fifth studio album, “Death of a Bachelor.” The record is entirely unique to any of its predecessors, yet is right at home with Panic’s piquant lyrical style and Urie’s unparalleled vocals. Urie is the only remaining founding band member, yet “Death of a Bachelor” speaks for itself – quality makes up for quantity.
The record kickstarts with the hip-hop-influenced, pop-punk banger “Victorious,” which aims to entice and excite listeners with a musical light show that never lets up. The chorus features the childlike echoes of a choir and Urie’s howling falsetto. Though lacking in substance, its high-octane energy has the makings of an anthem.
Subtle remorse is found on the alt-hymn “Hallelujah.” The track exhibits the brink of maturation Urie and his band have reached on their long musical journey. Through brutally forthright reflection, you’ll find religion in this rock gospel.
Traveling deeper takes you to the snarky “Emperor’s New Clothes,” with cool guitars and bass. The track “Death of a Bachelor,” much deserving of the crowning title, is a Sinatra-inspired crooner who pinpoints Urie’s introspective and overdue chrysalis, but the sharp turn from pop-rock to jazz takes away from the plenitude of the album as a whole.
The second half of the album falters in comparison to its rousing beginning and quickly snaps off the one semi-ballad to yet another string of fast-paced, alt-pop tracks. These lack in crucial aspects, whether they’re trying just a little too hard to be clever and relevant in a pop culture-driven genre, or to keep up with the exciting nature expected from their artistry. Yet, it’s hard to deny all that does stand out, like the vivacious melodies (“LA Devotee”), driving bass lines (“Golden Days”), and the aesthetics in honesty and reality (“House of Memories”) that let the record carry on despite its faults.
The album ends with the true piano ballad “Impossible Year.” Urie trades his falsetto for a deeper swing that highlights his vocal craft. From the poignant, keenly illustrated description of a truly impossible year to the grand simplicity of brass and keys, the song can only be described as beautiful.
In spite of its unfocused and rudimentary elements, “Death of a Bachelor” is a resurrection album, a reflection of Brendon Urie’s untiring musical journey. Flaws and faults seem to be quirks and minor slip-ups, considering Urie’s purity and devotion to the record, a manifestation of his own blood, sweat, and tears. Though one of the pioneers of today’s pop-punk music scene, Panic! at the Disco carves out a unique genre that is all its own. (8/10)
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.