Album Review

Panic! At The Disco "Vices and Virtues"

Megan Eidelbach
Panic! At The Disco have made their name in modern “emo” and pop music circles as being a band with definite musical talent and drive. With their new album, Vices and Virtues, the follow-up to 2008's Pretty.Odd., the band itself shows that while undergoing a complete transition, they can also solidify themselves as remaining true to their sound, while revising it uniquely.

The “band” itself, as a whole, has actually only two of the remaining lineup- singer/lyricist and multi-instrumentalist Brendon Urie and drummer Spencer Smith. Primary guitarist and lyricist Ryan Ross and bassist Jon Walker left the band due to musical differences in July of 2009, leaving Urie and Smith in musical upheaval. How were they to salvage the band, and yet keep doing what they love, with their main songwriter and their bass guitar leads gone?? Urie was left to find himself involved in songwriting, and became the band's principal lyricist. Vices touches on themes of manipulation and confusion, which was basically behind what Urie and Smith were experiencing at this time of their life. The record itself took two years to create, though recording did not begin until April of 2010. The album was produced by both John Feldmann and Butch Walker, with all of the guitar and bass completed in early July. When the band looked back on their lyrics, they noticed a sort of theme running through the songs themselves- subversion, manipulation, vanity. Urie likened it to the seven deadly sins, hence the title of the album.

The songs themselves are obviously different in many ways, with a variety of styles and experimentation. The album so far has gotten mixed reviews, most of the positive recalling the mixture of sound and instruments, and the negative attacking Urie's obvious lyrical naiveté. I am inclined to agree here- while I wasn't impressed with the song styles and the lightness of the lyrics, I did enjoy the maneuverability of the instruments, and how they composed the songs and wrapped them all together- especially in the case of their first single, released on February 2nd, 2011, “The Ballad of Mona Lisa”. I was not entranced by the verses, but did like how they placed the chorus, and how the guitars and drums themselves wove into the song. The video for MTV shows Urie decked out in steam punk attire, and though the video was executed nicely, his face just seemed to be a little goofy and silly for the song and the video itself, in my book... Other memorable songs on this album were “Let's Kill Tonight” which was reminiscent of the old Panic! sound., the poppy dance tune “Ready To Go (Get Out Of My Mind), which evoked a Killers-esque beat in my mind.. and the love song “Sarah Smiles”, a song written for Urie's girlfriend, mid-infatuation, which has beautiful rhythm and sweet lyrics, and if it wasn't my imagination, almost had a gypsy sound to it. But strangely enough my favorite song on the album (and maybe this is due to my guilty pleasure of 80's dance music), was “Trade Mistakes” which reminded me of an old Erasure song, which struck my old heart piece and almost made me giddy. While Panic! may never make it in my book as one of my favorite bands, or make it into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, they definitely are coming through well for having a fledgling writer and for having excellent production.

For those that also enjoy videos and visual stimulation with their music, Panic! did make an interesting video called “The Overture” available on the net for viewing for free that fans might find an interesting addition to their collection. While I wouldn't necessarily go out and buy this entire record, I would say that at least for being indecisive and new to being a twosome, Urie and Smith are making at least a few good steps in the right direction.