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They’re not standing around the watercooler, but Cheryl Sadler, Mark Meszoros, Mark Podolski and Nicole Franz are talking about what they’ve been watching, listening to and playing during their free time.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Panic! at the Disco: Vices & Virtues

“You’ll dance to anything. You’ll dance to anything.” -Hurricane

Well, Panic! At The Disco fans got what they wanted with Vices & Virtues, which was released Tuesday.

The band’s third album — their first without Ryan Ross and Jon Walker — is more of a return to the sound of their first album, A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out, which is all fine and dandy but to me, it’s a shame Panic! ditched the sound of their sophomore record Pretty. Odd., which has commonly become known as “The Ryan Ross Record.”

Pretty. Odd. was such a step in the right direction and a breath of fresh air. A clear transition from the band’s first album into a more mature, complex and throwback album to the 1950s and 1960s that went completely over most fans’ heads. It was one of my favorite records of the 2000s, easily.

Vices & Virtues is good, no doubt, but having seen what this band is capable of when they think outside of the box, it comes off as a bit of a disappointment, especially after waiting for more than three years for it.

Following the departure of Ross and Walker, the band was at a standstill as lead singer Brendon Urie was never much of a song writer and you can definitely tell on Vices. While the songs remain as catchy and poppy as ever, the lyrics clearly suffer which leads me to believe that Panic! believes they can create any ole song and fans will “dance to anything,” which very well may be true, especially now with the shape the music industry is in. Create a nice beat, a hooky chorus and it doesn’t really matter if the lyrics have any substance.

With that said, there are some real standout tracks on Vices. “Nearly Witches” is a song I saw the band play live on You Tube nearly five months ago and I remember saying right then and there that it’d be the best song on the album. Not only do I still think that, but it ranks up there with one of the best songs the band has ever done. I could however do without the 40 second intro of children singing, no offense.

First single “The Ballad of Mona Lisa,” is another top notch song but sounds like “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” Part II. Even the video is eerily similar to the band’s first single ever back in 2005.

“Let’s Kill Tonight,” sounds like Urie’s response to Ross and Walker leaving the band.

“If I retreat
Words, wars, and symphonies
Make room we’re taking over here
And you’re the galantine
Cold and alone, it suits you well
Won’t find me perching here again
May your feet serve you well
And the rest be sent to Hell
Where they always have belonged
Cold hearts brew colder songs
Fate will play us out”

...and then again on “Memories”

“When July became December
Their affection fought the cold,
But they couldn’t quite remember
What inspired them to go.
And it was beautifully depressing
Like A Streetcar named Desire
They were fighting for their love
That started growing tired
...Money lost momentum
And the bills were piling high
Then the smile, it finally faded
From the apple of their eye
And they were young and independent,
And they thought they had it planned
Should’ve known right from the start
You can’t predict the end.”

As always with Panic!, the most interesting thing about this album is the instruments which include Strings, keys, violins, accordions, cellos, etc and they really play these instruments, it’s not some made up recorded track done by a computer. I’ve seen them do it live (and they really know how to put on a live show, to be perfectly Frank with you).

At the end of the day, I can’t help but miss Ross, who was the band’s main songwriter throughout the first two records and the brainchild of Pretty.Odd. No doubt Pretty.Odd. divided much of the band's fan base so those who didn't like it will find relief in Vices.

By Nick Carrabine


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