Panic! At The Disco: The willingness rings true in 'Death of a Bachelor'

PHOTO: The Jakarta Post/ANN

Music fans older than the age of say, 25, will be excused for never getting into Panic! At The Disco (P!ATD).

After all, the band's basically a teeny pop-punk band dressed up in grandiose electronica-via-baroque-styled off Broadway soundtrackers, right? Also, doesn't it sound far too impressed by passe things only the selfie generation is impressed with?

Well, not really. Though the band's beginnings - discovered by modern Emo music royalty Pete Wentz, who signed the band to his label, Decaydance - undoubtedly influenced it in certain ways, P!ATD has always been too curious, too Tasmanian Devilish in its musical hyperactivity to stay vacuumed within its Blink 182 roots.

Written and recorded when the original band members were still in high school, the band's 2005 debut, A Fever You Can't Sweat Out, tried to push whatever limited suburban kids influence it had then with impressive references, including novelist Chuck Palahniuk affair-laden film Closer and a massive dose of theatricality.

When album number two followed three years later, the band had moved into Sgt. Pepper's house and nicked a good amount of George Harrison's guitar riffs and Lennon-McCartney songbook.

The aesthetic borrowings may feel a little hollow and surface-like sometimes, but the excitement never dies.

P!ATD simply never feels unexcited about its music and whatever other things cross its eyesight. There's an unabashedly infectious vigour that rings true even if the music may not be your cup of tea.

Now, on album number five, Death of a Bachelor (DCD2/Fueled by Ramen), the "band" (we'll get to that) has adopted everything from electronica-tinged gospel, big band infused pop rock, and hip hop infused rockabilly - all enclosed with Top 40 bombast.

This feels like the culmination of everything sole surviving original member - and currently the only official band member - Brendon Urie has done since the rest of the band, including original songwriting-head Ryan Ross, left in 2009.

The big choruses, the non-ironic crowd hyping bells and whistles are all very Urie. And considering he played all the instruments himself (as he basically did in the previous three records, except for drums on album three), the record's personality is also Urie's.

Anyone who felt a dislike for that cute class clown who was always the centre of attention in high school will not enjoy this album; for anyone else who thought he was the bomb will love it.

All of the songs on Bachelor are wrapped with Urie's self-applied panache, all theatre powder and stage lights, both in lyrics (evoking lost memories and pensive appropriation) and music (big and BIGGER).

In tracks such as opener "Victorious" and "Hallelujah", Urie spits-sings with his impressive pipes upon arena-rock beats and synthesizer bleeps and blops for the verse before jumping off that bridge with massive refrains, which are populist in their chest-thumping lyricism ("Until we feel alright/Tonight we are victorious") and almost proud of how their hair-metal magniloquence.

How can banality sound this forgivable? Again, it's Urie's conviction that blankets everything from our experienced cynicism.

Those big percussions keep on going on other tracks. "Emperor's New Clothes" keeps it going alongside its suave hip-hop rhymes, while "The Good, The Bad and The Dirty" has stuttering distorted drums riding glue-like to the catchy "owhs" and glistening synths.

Non big drums tracks are also included, rather surprisingly, such as "LA Devotee", which comes close to the old P!ATD sound with its major-minor chorus that no amount of big band horns can hide.

More subtle moments are rare, but "House of Memories" comes close with its only mildly bombastic "owhs".

Closer "Impossible Year" sees Urie crooning a'la Sinatra, which the press for the album has made clear was a big influence on the record.

Urie doesn't have (yet?) the gravitas of Frank, of course, nor the soulfulness to weigh the bombast with a sense of empathy, but his delivery is stronger than most, certainly in the pop realm, and like everything on this album, the willingness rings true.

Death of Bachelor may not be easy to love or even like, but darn if its humane centre isn't consistently impassioned with the prospect of making sounds for everyone in the party.

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