Sound — 6
Panic! At The Disco formed in 2004, and found immediate success with their first album, "A Fever You Can't Sweat Out," mainly on the power of their single, "I Write Sins Not Tragedies." Their second album, which had a stylistic change going from pop punk more into the realm of pop music with rock elements, saw less success. Their third album, "Vices & Virtues," was marked by Jon Walker and Ryan Ross leaving the band, and another stylistic change - this time to more of a rock context with heavy pop influences. "TOo Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die!" displays yet another stylistic change, this time showing the band delve into the realm of dance pop. The album contains 10 tracks that clock in at just a little over 32 minutes. The first two singles from the album were "Miss Jackson" and "This Is Gospel," which were released respectively in mid-July and mid-August. The album opens up with the track "This Is Gospel," which slowly builds by adding in instrumentation until the chorus comes in and the song changes gears to a high energy track. "Miss Jackson" is next, and probably has the most "rock" vibe of any track on the album, but an unmistakable dance beat running throughout. "Vegas Lights" starts with an audio sample (I think from old school Sesame Street) and builds to an EDM track with a female chorus singing the hook, and with Brendon Urie doing the verses. "Girl That You Love" sounds a lot like an EDM track that might have come out back in the day of new wave music. "Nicotene" starts with a creepy little melody on keyboard and builds for quite a while in the track, making you expect the bass to drop, but instead it goes back to that creepy little melody from the beginning. "Girls/Girls/Boys" is the next track, and this track makes me think about '80s new wave music as well. Next up is "Casual Affair" which has a very interesting intro, but once the lyrics come in you realize that intro is just going to keep going (with the exception of the chorus) and discover this is once again an EDM-styled track. "Far Too Young to Die" starts out with a slow melody on keyboard, but is soon punctuated by some midi percussion playing 4/4 at about 120 BPM accompanied by heavily processed vocals. "Collar Full" starts out with an almost indie rock sound but the chorus pushes the track far into the realm of pop. "The End of All Things" starts out with a piano part that does a great job of symbolizing all the things the title of the song suggests. The vocals come in very heavily processed, but they mostly work with the piano part. A string arrangement makes its way into the track, but it sits back a little in the mix. The track makes a good bookend for the album.
Lyrics — 7
Brendon Urie has already proved his chops as a vocalist, most successfully in the pop punk genre. While he still seems to have every bit of ability he had back then, he is now supplemented by very heavy processing - reverbs, auto-tune, chorus effects, etc. I can't really complain, as this is pretty much standard practice for dance music – which this album seems to be. The lyrics at times seem to be fairly personal, but at other times seem to just be standard dance music lyrics. As a sample, here are some lyrics from their single, "This Is Gospel": "This is gospel for the fallen ones/ locked away in permanent slumber/ assembling their philosophies/ from pieces of broken memories/ Oh, this is the beat of my heart, this is the beat of my heart/ The gnashing teeth and criminal tongues conspire against the odds/ But they haven't seen the best of us yet." The lyrics definitely have a more narrative nature than you would expect with the music, and are by far the most interesting part of the album.
Overall Impression — 6
I definitely enjoyed the previous album, "Vices & Virtues," more than this current release. This release is, however, very pop oriented and very accessible to the general listener. I think that there will probably be a lot of people who really enjoy this album and a lot of that is going to depend on how you define good pop music. For me, personally, good pop music is like The Beatles, or maybe Brendan Benson. I feel like this album shows another step into the direction of disposable pop. It isn't a bad album, but at the end of the day it doesn't feel like there is a lot of substance to it.