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Panic! At The Disco - ‘Death Of A Bachelor’

David McLaughlin
David McLaughlin 9 January 2016 at 15.44

Panic! At The Disco - ‘Death Of A Bachelor’ Cover

Spoiler: it's great.

Remember the 2013 Baz Luhrmann movie adaptation of The Great Gatsby? You know the scene where Leonardo DiCaprio introduces himself as the smirking master of ceremonies, oozing charm and charisma? That’s pretty much Brendon Urie on ‘Death Of A Bachelor’. Listen closely and you can almost hear clinking Martini glasses, old sport.

A solo album in all but name, Panic! At The Disco’s fifth full-length sees the Vegas native step into the spotlight proper for the first time. Not that he’s been shy previously, but a handful of co-writing credits on the first three songs aside, this is all Brendon. Every word, guitar lick, drum beat, bassline, brass parp, whatever… it’s all him. And yet it’s still quintessentially Panic!. So much has changed in the decade plus that’s passed since the release of the band’s debut album, but every note here sounds like the logical conclusion to the evolution of each preceding record – a remarkable achievement.

Sparking into life with handclaps and a choir of cheerleaders, ‘Victorious’ kickstarts the party like a shot of Sambuca coursing through the bloodstream. Vocally, Brendon lets rip and sounds like he’s having an absolute whale of a time, singing about decadence and living carefree in the moment, whatever the consequences.

Consequences hit hard, though. ‘Don’t Threaten Me With A Good Time’ sees our hero waking up with a horror show of a hangover, hazy about what happened the night before, only for a vague memory of “drunk pre-meds and some rubber gloves / 5,000 people with designer drugs” to suddenly hit.

The glorious, party pop-gospel of lead single ‘Hallelujah’ throws some fresh light on the shade elsewhere, but it doesn’t last long. The haunting nursery rhyme stomp of ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’ and louche jazz swing of the title track again serve as reminders of how the playboy lifestyle catches up in the end. On the latter, Brendon Urie channels the spirit of Frank Sinatra – a preposterous prospect in theory, yet it’s a style that suits him like vintage braces and a Fedora. ‘Golden Days’ and ‘LA Devotee’ continue the themes of reminiscence laced with regret, and lament shot through with stoic acceptance. No more so does the party get into full swing than on the tom-tom and big brass face-off of ‘Crazy = Genius’ – an ode to The Beach Boys in the style of The Jungle Book soundtrack. No, really!

The reflective ups seem to suggest a residual fondness for these former excesses, but the cautionary downs also speak to a recognition that it’s time to leave it all behind. And on cue, ‘This Impossible Year’ bookends the boisterousness like despondent closing credits, with one final, farewell note of nostalgia, “There’s no sunshine, there’s no you and me, there’s no good times, this impossible year”. All that’s missing is the vocalist exiting with a melodramatic bow as a huge velvet curtain drops.

‘Death Of A Bachelor’ seems to find the 28-year-old Panic! frontman coming to terms with the twilight of his youth creeping in. Soon it’ll be time for grown up things and adulthood – the party’s over, it’s time to clean up now. But for Brendon Urie, the real party’s only just begun.

FOR FANS OF: Fall Out Boy, Head Automatica, Michael Bublé

There's a lovely interview with Brendon Urie inside our new magazine! Want it? You can...


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