Vices & Virtues Review

artist: Panic! At the Disco date: 03/04/2013 category: compact discs
Panic! At the Disco: Vices & Virtues
Released: Mar 18, 2011
Genre: Alternative Rock, Emo, Pop Punk
Label: Decaydance, Fueled by Ramen
Number Of Tracks: 10
The Beatles-esque arrangements from the bands sophomore album are more or less non-existent on this release.
 Sound: 8
 Lyrics: 7
 Overall Impression: 8.3
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reviews (3) 15 comments vote for this album:
overall: 6.7
Vices & Virtues Reviewed by: takenthecannoli, on march 04, 2013
8 of 10 people found this review helpful

Sound: Having established a notable fanbase and some measure of critical success with 2005's debut "A Fever You Can't Sweat Out" and 2008's "Pretty.Odd.", Vegas-based Panic! At The Disco (naturally) dropped its principle songsmith and bassist due to the classic "creative differences" and began working on a new studio release. What was to become "Vices & Virtues" (2011) was first suggested in the "Welcome To The New Administration" mixtape released by Pete Wentz to promote Fall Out Boy's "Folie A Deux" and other Decaydance-signed artists' upcoming releases. Among these was Panic!'s demo for "Nearly Witches", which sported departure from "Fever"'s burlesque imagery and "Pretty.Odd."'s Beatlesey pop in favor of Victorian-and-steampunk-influence. Singer Brendon Urie has taken up the mantle of songwriter (though "Nearly Witches" remained from previously mentioned lyricist Ryan Ross), with the record itself taking a step away from Panic!'s typical band-centric (whether it be rock, pop, or electronic/emo/whatever they used to do) composition in favor of somewhat more complex instrumentation and musical theatre tendencies. Where "Fever" struggled under the weight of the scene with impressing the band's musical capability (in other words, the pretentious-sounding members of the band outplayed any musical potential), "Pretty.Odd." received consistent-but-mixed scrutiny from fans and critics alike (in other words, too much of a good thing). With "Vices & Virtues", plenty of room is provided for what has always been an apparent ambition of Panic!'s musical maturity. This being said, the single greatest strength of "V&V" is its composition. A whole slew of instruments are thrown in, keeping the keyboard and synth from "Fever" and "Pretty.Odd."'s harpsichord, but throwing in everything but the kitchen sink to boot this includes but is not limited to accordion, trumpet, xylophone, vibraphone, cabasa, and an annoying kids' choir. This isn't the typical attempt at complexity by throwing too many instruments into one song; each is spotlighted masterfully (with the exception of aforementioned choir). Flavor is spotted not only in the songs, but also in the various interludes with which the record is littered. This occurs not in one song, but in every one; the result is a beautifully crafted musical delight. The band invited experimentation (further in every direction than that of the previous records), and to raving success. Every shred of schizophrenia from the debut and any irritating monotony from "Pretty.Odd." is utterly obliterated; "Vices & Virtues" is vivacious and varied. However... // 8

Lyrics: ...those damn lyrics. If there were high points to "Pretty.Odd." - which, while enjoyable, was essentially on the same level throughout they were probably lyrical. "Fever" was incredibly driven by the writing, which, though at times a crippling weakness ("cause that's just ridiculously on"), gave it personality. "Vices & Virtues" is in the same way crippled by its lyrics, albeit in entirely different ways. "Vices & Virtues" is, to the best of my knowledge, the first (public) lyrical outing on the part of Brendon Urie. As such, he could certainly be forgiven if this were 2005. Unfortunately, the releases before threaten at many times to upstage him in terms of confidence. His more personal direction is more than appreciated at times ("The Ballad Of Mona Lisa", "Trade Mistakes", every line but one in "Nearly Witches") even outstanding. For the majority of the record, however, it leaves the same impression as "Pretty.Odd."'s musical direction been there, done that, bought the T-shirt. Though the Panic! character is present, it isn't appropriately aged. Saying that the record feels like a lyrical step backwards may be a bit obvious, but for as good as the composition is, they stand out in the worst of ways. Anyone familiar with Urie's vocal work knows to expect a mixed bag here, he mostly impresses (by which I mean seldom annoys), which is a nice improvement. The "band-centric" feel I mentioned before is gone, and so the two elements left to spotlight are the individual performances. This draws Urie into the spotlight next to the musical composition. Thankfully, his musical theatre inflection compliments them very nicely. With "Vices & Virtues", Panic! may finally have found a genre for him to sing. // 5

Overall Impression: Panic! At The Disco will (most likely) never be a brilliant band they belong somewhere between 30 Seconds To Mars and Three Days Grace on the staying power chart but it seems they've finally broken truly exciting ground. Perhaps "struck genius" isn't appropriate, but at the very least, "Vices & Virtues" strikes a chord. Urie is better, the music is less molded to a scene and more reliant upon itself, and though lyrically weak, the songs are stronger than virtually anything they've put out prior. Deluxe versions also come with a slew of bonus tracks ("I Wanna Be Free" for more musical theatre and "TUrn Off The Lights" for a bit of a refined "Fever" flashback; "Kaleidoscope Eyes" for "Pretty.Odd." fans), all of which have something to offer. Independent of previous work, there is certainly a magnificent flow from song to song - the album truly feels like one piece, though the lyrics do often struggle. For the loyal Panic! fan, "Vices & Virtues" is a pleasant surprise, and proof that neither the scene nor any previously-established convention of music making matters even for your favorite writers of sins (not tragedies). For me personally something of a fan of "Pretty.Odd." but not enthusiastic about the band apart from that and for any casual listener, there is a lot to be enjoyed and quite potentially an up-and-coming maker of merit-worthy tunes. It's a real step up from chiming in with a "haven't you people ever heard of closing the god**** door."

// 7

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overall: 7.7
Vices & Virtues Reviewed by: Shawn1379, on april 07, 2011
3 of 4 people found this review helpful

Sound: As the band's first album since the departure of guitarist Ryan Ross and bassist Jon Walker due to artistic contrasts, it's no small surprise that their new album, Vices & Virtues took a different direction than their last. The Beatles-esque arrangements from the bands sophomore album are more or less non-existent on this release. In their stead are a mash-up of several musical styles equating to what most would call theatrical pop-rock. They've basically gone back to the style of their debut release, and kept a little bit of the flamboyance and flair from their second album. Possibly the most impressive thing about the album is the production. There are several layers of sound in many of the tracks, including rhythm guitar, lead guitar, bass, synth, drums, orchestra, etc, and you can hear everything very well. While the instrumentals might not sound technically impressive, that's not what the album is going for. If you're looking for something fun to listen to, and you're into pop, pop-rock, or lighthearted music in general, it's likely you'll enjoy this album. // 8

Lyrics: The lyrics are fun and fulfill their purpose. They don't seem quite as imaginative as those found on their previous album, but they're easier to relate to and more practical. Overall, the lyrics generate feelings of love, lust, and a bit of regret. Lines like "I led the revolution in my bedroom", might come off as cheesy to most, but lines like that are few and far between. As for the singing itself, as usual, Brendan Urie's vocals are superb. Even with a few cheesy lines, he manages to sell it all quite convincingly. The album's last track references the first track, which is nice. It gives the album an almost "everything coming full circle" feel. It may not sound like a big deal, but it makes this feel more like an album as opposed to a collection of songs. // 7

Overall Impression: If you're a casual listener, and you like fun, lighthearted tunes you'll almost definitely enjoy something that this album has to offer. You should definitely give it a chance. The fact that the band didn't shatter under the pressure of two members leaving, and they managed to release a solid album is wonderful. The only issue I have is the fact that it's under 40 minutes long. That's a bit too short for my liking. However, it should be noted that with the bonus tracks, the album is about 55 minutes long. Key tracks include Sarah Smiles, Trade Mistakes, and Always. I hope this review was helpful. This is my first, and I wanted to review something no one else had reviewed yet. If you have any criticisms or advice, please comment. Thanks in advance. // 8

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overall: 9
Vices & Virtues Reviewed by: dominicmorlan, on july 28, 2011
0 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sound: Panic! At The Disco has always had a different sound, some hybrid between synth rock, pop, and alternative. That being said, while it may seem like a different type of music, they are GREAT at making it work. In this they actually venture into using even more than their already impressive lineup of classic instruments, opening "The Ballad Of Mona Lisa" with a vibraphone, and an acourdian in "Sara Smiles" to name a few. Don't fear though, they did not lose a single step on their drum, bass, and guitar parts in the process. Overall they sound a lot more like they did on their first album "A Fever You Can't Sweat Out" than they did on their second album "Pretty. Odd", which, while I LOVE "When They Day Met The Night", is definatly an improvement. // 8

Lyrics: Panic! has always been a band that produces interesting lyics, and this album is no different, but the beauty of it is that it is a very good kind of different. One new addition to their lyrical themes is found on their in the form of their song "Always". On this track, lead singer Brendon Urie actually preforms a ballad, and a good one at that, exploring his impressive upper range singing on basicially the entire track. Their different lyrics seem to be the yin to the yang of their different kind of sound, so overall it works really well! // 9

Overall Impression: As I said previously, Panic! seems to be heading in the direction of some of their older stuff, which is something that I think anyone bothering to read this review would love to see! In the event that someone would steal this from me, I would undoubtably buy this album again! Some tracks to look out for are "The Ballad Of Mona Lisa", "Hurricane", "Memories", "Always", and "Nearly Witches (Ever Since We Met)". // 10

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