Too boring to remember, too repetitive to bear

Too boring to remember, too repetitive to bear

Panic! at the Disco (often abbreviated to P!ATD) has changed its musical style multiple times: punk-inspired in “A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out,” pop-like in “Vices & Virtues,” and whatever “Pretty. Odd.” was supposed to be. Of course, there have been some similarities in their albums; all embrace quirky, slightly-off melodies and odd lyrics full of metaphor. But what happens when the band, for the most part, abandons the creativity that strung all these albums together? The answer: “Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die!”

The first song, “This is Gospel,” is a perfectly OK start; opening quietly with synthetic harmonies, the creative lyrics seem to follow those of the band’s previous albums. Lead singer Brendon Urie describes the “fallen ones locked away in permanent slumber, assembling their philosophies from pieces of broken memories.” The song is quite catchy, employing a strong pop-rock sound. Sometimes Urie’s vocals can seem a bit off, and not in the quirky way I’m used to. Pre-chorus, Urie belts out “If you love me, let me go” several times. Sometimes it sounds good, sometimes it sounds too shrill. But overall, “This is Gospel” is a fine opening.

“Miss Jackson,” featuring Lolo, was the lead single, released July 15. First of all, Lolo (an American soul singer from Tennessee) is in the song for maybe 20 seconds. Apparently that’s all it takes to be a featured artist nowadays. Second, when listening to the song the first time, I thought it sounded eerily familiar; it sounds similar to Fall Out Boy’s “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark.” Here’s the thing, Fall Out Boy and Panic! at the Disco have always been close; P!ATD was discovered by Fall Out Boy’s bassist Pete Wentz and currently opens for them on tour. Both groups recently have been shifting to a more mainstream influence. I may be speculating, but the songs have such similar sounds, from the melody patterns to the background vocals, that it can’t be a coincidence.

But I have problems with “Miss Jackson” other than the fact that it’s a mediocre version of a Fall Out Boy song. The chorus is completely incomprehensible; I’ve suffered through the song several times, thinking Urie was asking his one-night stand “Are you not staying?” to coincide with the song’s theme, when apparently, he’s asking her “Are you nasty?” Considering how many times he repeats the line, you’d think he’d be able to properly enunciate it properly. Another problem with the chorus: It’s boring. Much of the melody beforehand clumsily builds up, leading me to expect a loud, booming chorus. Instead, I received a completely underwhelming, repetitive mess. “Miss Jackson” is definitely a miss.

“Vegas Lights” demonstrates the group’s inspirations: Las Vegas clubs. Like “This is Gospel,” the song is catchy, but this time under an EDM-influence. The electronic effects ring constantly in the background, creating a wall of noise too thick to penetrate; it is just too much too listen to. Many background vocals are the voices of children counting, which admittedly are used well. However, like “Miss Jackson,” “Vegas Lights” proves too repetitive and boring to leave much of an imprint. Seriously, I find the counting children more exciting than Urie. During the bridge, he switches to a falsetto in what I assume is meant to be touching. He even lets his voice break once or twice (a common technique used to show “emotion”). The lyrics, again, are occasionally strong, though still irritatingly repetitive. He describes Vegas as “the deep end” where “we’re swimming with the sharks until we drown.” However, tedious shark metaphors and counting to 10 isn’t enough to save this song, and “Vegas Lights” proves painful.

 “Girl That You Love” gives a darker look at P!ATD’s hometown of Vegas. It makes use of an 80s synthetic beat, though it can sound too busy at times. Of course, this probably was to make up for the lack of anything else interesting. Urie’s voice is heavily processed and monotonous in an effort to contribute to the song’s somewhat ominous feel. But it doesn’t work. Coupled with the repetitive lyrics, “Girl That You Love” offers little to the album. One line did get a minor emotional reaction though; Urie describing how he “followed her home” is creepy and reflects some of the negative side of Vegas. But there’s only so many times you can hear Urie say “girl that you love” before you go crazy.

 “Nicotine” is fast-paced and energetic in a way I wish the rest of the album was. The song sounds like a nice combination of the group’s rock sound, dance and, interestingly, a bit of Spanish flair. Vocally strong, Urie describes his addiction to another’s love, his “nicotine,” and how he can “taste you on my lips and I can’t get rid of you.” The lyrics are comparatively smarter than the rest of the album (still way too repetitive though) and improve a dance song listeners can lose themselves in.

Lyrically, “Girls/Girls/Boys” probably is the most interesting on the album (not that hard though), not from P!ATD’s writing technique, but from the subject matter itself. Urie describes how his girlfriend who “loves girls and boys” and cannot decide between him and another girl. He criticizes her for using him as a beard to “save your reputation” instead of being with her girlfriend, stating “love is not a choice.” Bold choice, tackling controversial matters such as sexual orientation; I respect P!ATD for not shying away, and I applaud their views on the issue, though it somewhat perpetuates the idea that bisexuals are indecisive. Aside from the lyrics, Urie delivers the vocals well aside from the occasional enunciation problem. As for the EDM beat however, it sounds a bit too processed for my taste, but “Girls/Girls/Boys” is another taste of creativity on the album.

“Casual Affair” is another boring and uninspiring song. The beat is weak; I’ve heard it several times from other artists. The rest of the instrumental is really messy. Synthesizers, strings, violin, whispers — all are simultaneously blaring behind Urie’s processed vocals. Lyrics are quite meaningless as well; Urie doesn’t tell anything about this one-time “casual affair” other than continuously repeating how they “lay in the atmosphere.” These lyrics ultimately means nothing. I feel nothing for this relationship I know nothing about. The song is so boring and drawn out; this three minute song feels like forever.

“Far Too Young to Die” starts off with an electronic beat reminiscent of Lady Gaga’s “The Fame” (which I love), but Gaga could pull it off. The beat sounds disconnected during some of the song, particularly the chorus where the beat mashes uncomfortably with strings, which do sound nice. The lyrics on the other hand are amazingly creative. Urie describes an almost obsessive love; he’s lying to her for attention (“twisting allegories”), going to almost extreme lengths (“chasing roller coasters” to “have you closer”) and even questioning the validity of his desires for her, whether it’s a “fixation or psychosis.” Other than the bits of disconnect around the chorus and the beat, I enjoyed “Far Too Young to Die,” its strong vocals and lyrics.

By the time “Collar Full” rolls around, I’ve been banging my head on a table because the album’s so painfully boring. This song is a reminder that Panic! at the Disco is actually a rock band; they actually used a guitar for a bit. “Collar Full” is the only upbeat song other than the first track, “This is Gospel.” All the others are dark, in a bland, uninspiring way. “Collar Full” still doesn’t have as good lyrics as P!ATD’s previous albums, describing what many pop songs do. Urie sings to “show me your love, your love, before the world catches up.” Nothing special, but not meaningless like some of the album’s lyrics. I’m glad “Collar Full” changed the monotonous tone of the album.

“The End of All Things” could have been great. P!ATD’s previous albums were fairly processed, but the group knew not to overdo it in several stripped-down songs, like “Trade Mistakes” from “Vices & Virtues.” All the vocals of this song though have been vocoded, which can sound overdone at times. But that’s about all the negatives. The piano and the violin sound so simple and would be beautiful no matter what. But after a whole album of synthesizers and messy beats, actual instruments are a relief. The lyrics are personal and touching. According to to Urie, he wrote “The End of All Things” to his new wife Sarah, promising her his love even in the far future. He sings “whether near or far, I am always yours” and how “in these coming years many things will change, but the way I feel will remain the same.” Wow. Urie’s genuinity in “The End of All Things” almost makes up for the lyrics in the rest of the album. Although I think the song would have sounded better without all the vocal effects, “The End of All Things” is personal and touching in the best way possible.

Creatively, “Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die!” is a step below Panic! at the Disco’s previous albums. The few interesting lyrics are overshadowed by the album’s overall blandness, and half of the songs are forgettable, especially within the first half, with only three songs passing ‘OK’ or ‘bad’ to anywhere near ‘good’: “Far Too Young to Die,” “Girls/Girls/Boys” and “The End of All Things.” P!ATD’s past genre jumps, while mildly annoying, were full-force, all-out changes; even “Pretty. Odd.” which I hated, jumped so far into folk rock that I at least respected the group’s boldness. “Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die!” is half-hearted in its supposed dance influence. Many beats feel pasted on or overwhelm the boring melodies. Hopefully, P!ATD will choose a genre, stick with it and get its act together in the next album. Because “Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die!” is bland enough for me to forget about by tomorrow.