Panic! at the Disco is an emo-pop/punk band who rose to massive popularity with fans and critics in 2005 with their debut, A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out. It was an album dripping in attitude and urgency, featuring excellent lyricism and instrumentation, and highlighted by the incomparable vocal talents of frontman, Brendon Urie.
The band would go on to an excellent career which is especially notable for their putting the “Fueled by Ramen” label on the map, their many tours with fellow emo-punk band Fall Out Boy, and above all, their penchant for delivering vastly different sounds from album to album.
As the years went on, however, members came and went between records until, finally in 2016, Urie released Death of a Bachelor under the P!ATD monicker as the sole remaining member. It was an album with a lot of potential, but wholly lacking in direction as there was no balancing force to Brendon’s manic creativity. Just two years later, Urie returns with the sixth installment in the Panic!’s storied discography.
In many ways, Pray for the Wicked feels like a continuation of ideas which its predecessor started. Tracks like “Say Amen” and “Silver Lining” could very easily have fallen on either album, and the synth-heavy instrumentation does leave much of the track listing feeling stale.
The most obvious take away for even the most casual of listeners is Brendon Urie’s excellent vocal performance. Throughout the album, and especially on tracks like “Roaring 20’s” and “Hey Look Ma, I Made It,” Urie puts on an absolute clinic. His range is particularly impressive, and his recent stint on Broadway in Kinky Boots has brought a brand new dimension to his already very full tool box.
The strides which are made by the great vocal work are heavily undercut, though, by the dreadfully cheesy lyricism which plagues every track. While Death of a Bachelor was criticized for overusing themes of unrepentant party lifestyles and wild nights, Pray for the Wicked gleefully digs up that dead horse and beats it eleven more times. Tracks like “High Hopes,” and “Dancing’s Not a Crime” are simply unforgivable, while “The Overpass” and “One of the Drunks” would be enjoyable if there was any joy left to be found in this writing style.
The album, as a whole, is paced quite well. Clocking in at just under forty minutes, most of the runtime flies by, and much of the repetitiveness can be forgiven for this reason. That being said, several tracks feel completely pointless. “King of the Clouds,” and “Old Fashioned” are completely forgettable, and only “Dying in LA,” is able to rescue the latter half of the project.
Ultimately, Pray for the Wicked is very enjoyable, and works as a musical wallpaper. However, it utterly fails to hold up to any in depth exploration, and leaves much to be desired by way of story telling in instrumentation. P!ATD is certainly standing shoulders above the recent work of their pop/punk contemporaries, but even still, this album is a mere shadow of the urgency and potential which can still be heard in the groups debut.
HEAR THE ALBUM: https://open.spotify.com/album/6ApYSpXF8GxZAgBTHDzYge