Panic! At The Disco are back with their third album, Vices & Virtues. Gone is the faux Beatles sound of Pretty Odd. That sound left with primary songwriter Ryan Ross, on this album Panic transforms into a mainstream alternative rock band. But there are still subtle nods to the band’s previous albums. The two remaining members, Brendon Urie and Spencer Smith prove that good things come to those who wait. Keep reading after the jump.
The album starts off with the lead single “The Ballad of Mona Lisa”, surprisingly; this is one of the weakest songs on the album. So if you loved that song, then it only get’s better from here. The second track “Kill Tonight” has good intentions, but it quickly becomes annoying. It has too many handclaps and it sounds like you’ve been transported to a twisted circus, and you’re not in the crowd, you’re the freak in the cage and Brendon is the ringleader. To say it’s a bad acid trip would be an understatement.
“Hurricane” and “Memories” kicks the album into gear; this is what I consider the beginning. Neither song would be out of place on top 40 radio, lyrically, I think the loss of Ryan Ross had no real negative effect on the band. The lyrics are better, his work always sounded forced, this problem isn’t present on Vices & Virtues. Everything flows how it should, also you don’t have to reach for a dictionary every five minutes.
“Trade Mistakes” begins with violins and strings, then Brendon’s vocals, which are softer than normal. The best way I can describe it, is it’s like a slow burn. Parts of it remind me of another Las Vegas band, The Killers (a good thing in my book). “Ready To Go” is going to be the second single; once you listen to it you’ll understand why. Honestly, I think the chorus is a little weak; it’s catchy, just nothing amazing. Still, the mainstream audience will eat it up.
“Always” would have fit perfectly on Pretty Odd. It has a soft breezy feel and it showcases Brendon’s vocals nicely, definitely a stand out track. “The Calendar” is another gem, the production is perfect, not over produced, it’s just right.
The final two tracks are the album’s best; “Sarah Smiles” is one of the best songs they’ve ever written, the lyrics, instrumentation, and vocals make it downright impossible not to love. “Nearly Witches” wouldn’t be out of place on Fall Out Boy’s Folie a Deux. The ending ties everything together with a chant from “The Ballad of Mona Lisa”. This brings to mind FOB’s “What a Catch Donnie”, all that aside; it’s a great song with a nice theatrical vibe. I couldn’t think of a better way to end an album.
I’m going to make a bold statement here, this is P!ATD’s best album, the band has matured and for the first time, I feel like they have a clear focus. On “A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out” they sounded like a bunch of kids playing around with weird sounds and artificially complex bookish lyrics. On Pretty Odd, they were a band with an identity crisis, no one needed another Beatles, but on Vices & Virtues they’re stronger than ever.