Panic’s latest effort packs a sizable punch despite its brevity: If there is one thing that has to irk Panic! At The Disco, it’s being in the shadows of another, more popular pop-punk band named Fall Out Boy. Personally, it irks me too, because time and time again, it seems that Panic has separated themselves from the colleagues with their stylistic adventurousness and nonconformity. Fourth album Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die! doesn’t eschew that eclecticism, this time relying on elements of 80s pop, electronic music, and R&B as major influences. As captivating as the rest of their discography, Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die! is another welcome addition.
“This Is Gospel” sets the tone for Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die!, characterized by its creative lyrics (such as “This is the gospel for the vagabonds / ne’er-do-wells and insufferable bastards / confessing their apostasies…), energetic production, and gargantuan refrain. Groovy, with frontman Brendon Urie’s whiny, dramatic vocals shining, “This is Gospel” transcends being merely another emo song. It’s obvious numerous musical influences are at work, a characteristic that remains afloat throughout this effort. “If you love me, let me go / these words are knives and often leave scars / the fear of falling apart…” Good stuff, good stuff.
“Miss Jackson”, featuring Lolo, is nothing short of brilliant, truly finding Urie utilizing his contemporary R&B chops – still with emo-pop swag of course! And why not? Urie does reference Janet Jackson’s memorable “Nasty Boy” (“Call Miss Jackson if you’re nasty”), asking “Miss Jackson, Miss Jackson, Miss Jackson, are you nasty?”Similarly exciting is the pre-chorus/chorus section, which involves the return of yes you guessed it, the infamous g-d word that played such a pivotal role in the band’s biggest hit, “I Write Sins, Not Tragedies” (“…haven’t you people ever heard of / closing the g–damn door…”). Here, it plays out equally dramatic and relevant for emphasis, accent if you will : “Hey-ey / where will you be waking up tomorrow morning? / hey-ey / out the back door, g–damn / but I love her anyway…” Throw in bombastic, exciting production work and “Miss Jackson” kicks some serious boo-tay. Rock on.
“Vegas Lights” incorporates perhaps one of the most unexpected samples of the year – Sesame Street’s “Five Song”. Go figure. It works perfectly on the neo-disco/new-wave driven cut. “Vegas Lights” doesn’t supersede the one-two punch of “This Is Gospel” or “Miss Jackson”, but it’s no slouch either. Still memorable, the momentum remains at a consistent label as the chorus lyrics ring true: “The Vegas lights / where villains spend the weekend / the deep end / we’re swimming with the sharks until we drown…” “Girl That You Love” proceeds, continuing on the new-wave kick. Filled with minimalistic ideas that scream ‘80s, the timbre is just as notable (if not more so) than the song itself. Simply put, “Girl that you love / girl that you love / girl that you love / knows you don’t”. O…K…
Thank goodness that “Nicotine” is nowhere near “f–king drag” Urie speaks of throughout the song referencing addictive alkaloid. Sigh, the eyebrow raises than ‘f-bombs’ create regardless of the song, particularly with more than one iteration. “Cross my heart and hope to die / burn my lungs and curse my eyes”, Urie poetically sings on the first verse. “I’ve lost control and I don’t want it back / I’m going numb, I’ve been hijacked.” The allusion of love and smoke is flawlessly executed, best evidenced during the refrain: “I taste your lips and I can’t rid of you / so I say damn your kiss and the awful things you do / you’re worse than nicotine.” Ultimately, “Nicotine” proves to be as addictive a listen as it is the “f–king drag…I need it so bad” which the frontman conveys.
“Girls/Girls/Boys” certainly will grab men’s attention, at its simplest stating that “…girls love girls and boys / girls love girls and boys…” Who would’ve ever thought that Panic would go there? They are honest at least, and the “aww shucks” approach just makes it even better. Risqué it is, this reminds me of something David Bowie would absolutely eat up. Infectious, “Girls/Girls/Boys” is superb.
“Casual Affair” could never live up to “Girls/Girls/Boys”, but it follows up consistently if nothing else. “Far Too Young To Die” benefits from its creative lyrics, including “I never so adored you / I’m twisting allegories now / I want to complicate you / don’t let me do this to myself” (verse 1) or “Fixation or psychosis? Devoted to neurosis…” (verse two). Yep, it’s pretty ‘emo’ if you ask me, but would any of us really have it any other way? I mean “…give me one last kiss while we’re far too young to die”. Another winner by all means. Hey, Urie’s “just a villain vying for attention from a girl…who can’t decide.”
“Collar Full” gives Too Weird… one last ‘home run’ you might say. Bright, once more embracing neo- new wave, the groove definitely incites the uncontrollable tapping of one’s foot. “We’ve waited so damn long, we’re sick and tired / I won’t leave any doubt or stone unturned,” Urie proclaims on the first verse, continuing stating “I’ve got a collar full of chemistry from your company…” Pathetic pick-up line or genius? I’m not sure I’ll use it to land my next date, but I give kudos to Panic’s poetic talents. I mean at least Urie is creative in his bedroom endeavors, right? What better way to close than “The End of All Things”? “Lay us down, we’re in love.” Both dark and romantic, emos everywhere are happy…or sad…or, well, emo.
So did Panic! At The Disco score? YEAH! I enjoyed previous album Vices & Virtues very well, but I love the fact that the band once more experiments with their sound playing up their eclecticism. Maybe it doesn’t quite match the eclectic, electrifying shock that was Pretty. Odd, but it certainly solidifies the fact that Panic! At The Disco don’t want to be pigeonholed into just one stylistic characterization. It definitely pays off once more.
Favorites: “This Is Gospel” ; “Miss Jackson”; “Nicotine”; “Girls/Girls/Boys”; “Collar Full”
Panic! At The Disco | Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die! | Fueled By Ramen | US Release Date: October 8, 2013
Panic! At The Disco is: Brendon Urie, Spencer Smith & Dallon Weekes
Produced by Butch Walker