Panic! at the Disappointment: new album flops

Brendon Urie with his jacket in flames. Now a solo project, Panic! at the Disco was originally a band formed by Urie and his childhood friends Ryan Ross, Spencer Smith and Brett Wilson while they were in high school in 2004. // Photo courtesy of Alex Stoddard, Photographer

Panic! at the Disco (P!ATD) is a band that seems to have a place in almost everyone’s middle school “emo phase”. Since its formation in 2004, the band’s sound, image and lineup have evolved. 

The original pop-punk sound eventually drifted more towards pop, the outfits became more polished and modern, and the members cycled in and out until, eventually, there was only one member left: Brendon Urie. 

Despite the now solo venture, Urie continues to produce music under the P!ATD name, and this past Friday (Aug. 19, 2022), the band’s seventh studio album, “Viva Las Vengeance,” was released. 

A dramatic and fanatical ode to Urie’s upbringing in Las Vegas, the 12-track collection does not live up to the Panic! at the Disco name. None of the songs truly stood out to me as strong pieces of music; instead all the songs blended into the same poorly written and similar-sounding tune. 

Although it seems that Urie is attempting to return to old P!ATD’s sound, the songs lack any of the lyrical prowess that helped the older albums like “A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out” and “Pretty Odd” distinguish themselves as not just music but pieces of poetry. 

Instead, Urie’s lyrics sound like the rough draft of a D-student’s college admissions essays: full of simple sentences and repetition, with an inconsistent rhythm and only a mere few eloquent lines here and there. 

Viva Las Vengeance is also a prime example of the saying “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should,” mainly regarding Urie’s overuse of his signature high notes. 

The singer has long been known for his wide vocal range but there was a noticeable difference in the newest album: his voice sounded much more strained in nearly every note he sang. Instead of marveling at his vocal talents, listeners are left cringing as he attempts to sing higher and higher. 

Had Urie sang in a more limited range, he wouldn’t have sounded as if he were yelling with pitch adjustments. 

Musically, the album is a mess. Drawing inspiration from as many glam rock bands as it can — the most prominent one being Queen — multiple musical styles clash with each other throughout not just the album but even during the songs themselves. 

The resulting chaos is nothing short of confusing. The only thing that Brendon Urie succeeded in doing with “Viva Las Vengeance” was pulling the name of Panic! at the Disco further away from what the band originally was. 

The overly grandiose sound, boring lyrics, poor mixing, and pitchy vocals make listeners wish that Urie would simply take his own advice in the title track: “Shut up and go to bed.”