Panic! at the Disco – Pretty. Odd.

Panic! at the Disco (P!atD) started out as an idea to finally put together a band composed of childhood friends Spencer Smith and Ryan Ross who had been playing music for fun together since they were pre-teens. The bad was first made up of Ross on vocals and guitar, Smith on drums, and Brent Wilson on bass before the addition of Brendon Urie after he met Wilson in a guitar class in high school.

Originally, Ross sang but after the rest of the band heard Urie sing backups during one of their early practice sessions, they made a unanimous decision to make him lead vocalist, pushing Ross back to just playing guitar. Urie also plays piano and guitar. The band promoted itself heavily on the internet, eventually leaving a link to their Purevolume on Pete Wentz‘s (Fall Out Boy) livejournal, causing Wentz to fly out to Las Vegas to see the band practice. Wentz asked P!atD to sign to his Fueled By Ramen imprint label Decaydance on the spot. The band hadn’t yet played a single show.

P!atD’s first record A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out was released in September 2005. It produced five singles and was certified Double Platinum, having sold 2.2 million copies. The band spent almost all of 2006 touring and promoting their album along with its singles, including the well known hit “I Write Songs, Not Tragedies.” During May 2006, after the release of their second single “But It’s Better If You Do,” then bassist Wilson left the band and Jon Walker, former The Academy Is… tech and friend of the band, was brought in as a replacement. The band became notorious for their stage antics, including Victorian costumes, the Lucent Dossier Vaudeville Cirque, and their covers of several very well known songs, including Queen‘s “Killer Queen,” Radiohead‘s “Karma Police,” and The Beatles‘ “Eleanor Rigby,” though they’ve since dropped the antics for a much simpler stage show.

The band started recording in early 2007 but ended up scrapping the whole thing in July of that year, opting to start fresh. They started playing two new songs over the summer at various festivals, “When the Day Met the Night” and their first single off the new record “Nine in the Afternoon.” P!atD recorded the album in their hometown of Vegas and the album name, Pretty. Odd., was released along with plans to headline the 2008 Honda Civic Tour. The CD was finished up at the famous Abbey Road Studios in London, England and was released on March 25th, 2008. It debuted at #2 on the charts. The CD has already produced three singles, two of which have videos (“Nine in the Afternoon” and “That Green Gentleman”) and the other which was an iTunes digital single (“Mad as Rabbits”).

I was pretty beyond excited for this album release this year, probably more than any other album that had put up a release date at that point. I was a huge fan of Panic back when Fever was released and it’s stayed one of my most played albums on iTunes ever since I first bought it. Pretty. Odd. is the only CD I’ve ever pre-ordered in my life. I’ve had this CD for a good long while now and I still don’t know whether I honestly find it good or not.

I knew this album was going to be a far cry from the uppity techno beats of Fever, and it is exactly that. Pretty. Odd. is far more folk-based (think very Beatles-esque); I know I’m not the first to say it and I won’t be the last. I’ve gone through several stages of hating the CD at first to liking a few songs to being unable to take it out of my car stereo, to refusing to listen to it, to listening to just a few songs again.

I probably would have continued being unable to take it out of my car stereo had I not went to Honda Civic Tour and seen them live. Ross’ voice was a complete let down live compared to on the CD, where I actually found it a lot better than expected. They no longer play their old songs as they were originally recorded and have added more guitar and taken out the techno of the live versions (essentially making them less like Fever songs and more like they were on Pretty. Odd.). It was a complete and utter let down.

I originally liked the two CDs for very different reasons and the live mixing of the two into one was completely unnecessary and really ruined the second CD for me. While I won’t say it’s a bad CD, I can’t call it good either. While the lyrics are good and the melodies are good, the whole set up just rubs me the wrong way, and that may be blamed completely on the new image they’re putting out that looks far too forced a good deal of the time.

I would recommend listening to the CD, or what of it you can find, online first to see if it’s for you, because it might upset you if you’re a big fan of Fever. On the other hand, you may love it. But most likely you’ll find yourself in some weird middle ground like many people seem to have themselves stuck in with this CD.

Panic! at the Disco: website | myspace | “Nine in the Afternoon” video | “That Green Gentleman” video

*Hanna Marie

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