By Kelly Yu
It seems that emo kids do have something to fear from Panic at the Disco’s sophomore album, Pretty. Odd., released March 25. The band, once known for their hard beat, techno undertone and circus theme, has emerged from their three years of song writing with a new and more mature sound from their first release A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out. If you’re expecting to hear another “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” bit, you’re going to be surprised. Panic has replaced their long winded song titles with shorter, more symbolic, names, as well as Lewis Carroll references. The techno beats have become melodic brass and string lines running with the chorus. Somewhat angry and vengeful lyrics have been replaced with hopeful and positive messages about–what else–life. So, what led to this drastically different album?
What started in a California cabin in early 2007, ended in the famous British recording studio, Abbey Road. As initially conceived, the sophomore album would have followed one consistent story throughout. In July 2007, the band decided that this concept was too constraining and started from scratch. Bass Guitarist Jon Walker said, in an MTVU interview, “The problem with that stuff is that there weren’t any real complete songs…There was never a decision to just start completely over. We just said we were going to start writing songs that we wanted to write.” The first song they wrote after scrapping the first concept became the album’s original single, “Nine in the Afternoon.” After the change, the creative freedom felt right, and they continued to write eight more songs for the album in six weeks.
Although this is a new sound for Panic, it is almost impossible to ignore the influences of the Beatles strung throughout the album. I’m flattering the band, but this sound wasn’t what they were going for: guitarist Ryan Ross said in an interview that although they all do love The Beatles, he felt that they were doing what was right for each song. The upbeat retro sounds of specific songs such as “When the Sun Met the Night” and “She Had the World” seem to be a bit of a throwback to the 60’s style of the Beatles.
However, the greatest surprise was that Brandon Urie is not the only vocalist on this album. All four band members took part in different instruments and vocals on Pretty. Odd. However, it was refreshing to hear guitarist Ryan Ross singing his own songs. Like Pete Wentz in Fall Out Boy, Ryan Ross is one part lyricist and one part singer. This album is a huge collaboration from a (somewhat) still new band trying to find their feet in this complex genre.
So, if you’re looking for Panic! At the Disco, they left with their last album. They have dropped the exclamation point from their name, claiming that it wasn’t really intended to be there, but was an add-on from fans that they decided to adapt to. This new Panic at the Disco has found their mellow sound as well as a different performance style. If you are planning to see them headline the Honda Civic Tour this spring with Phantom Planet, The Hush Sound and Motion City Soundtrack, expect fewer contortionists and trapeze artists and, instead, a more down to earth, acoustic guitar session. Fans shouldn’t worry, though. As singer Brandon Urie sings on their first track, “We’re So Starving”, “You don’t have to worry because we’re still the same band.”