I talked about this a few months ago after ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’ dropped. About how I’ve always had a weird relationship with Panic! due to a lack of central identity, but I had hope that maybe a new album would mean they were starting to develop a sense of who they actually are as a band and have a central sound.
I should just shut my mouth because Death of a Bachelor is one of the most disjointed albums I have heard in a very long time.
This is not to say that it’s a bad album. In fact, it’s a lot better than their previous album Too Weird to Live, Too Rare To Die, which I could only listen to half of.
However, it seems like there’s two distinct parts of this album. I know that Panic! did this before with A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out, with the first half being an electronic dance album and the second half being cabaret pop. With Death of a Bachelor, it seems divided between wanting to be Queen and a modern Frank Sinatra.
The problem is that A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out at least divided those halves. There was an intermission track that bridged the gap between the two sides of the album. Death of a Bachelor just tosses you into what I assume it’s like in Brendon Urie’s brain before he smokes weed. The album whiplashes around from sound to sound without any breaks or transition whatsoever.
Here’s the thing about those two parts of the album: they’re actually really well done. Urie is something of a musical chameleon with his voice, able to go between styles fairly easily. However, it feels like he’s unlocking a secret treasure chest with the way he channels Frank Sinatra on tracks like ‘Death of a Bachelor,’ ‘Crazy = Genius,’ and ‘Impossible Year.’ Not that his fun and frantic Freddie Mercury style on ‘Victorious’ and ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’ isn’t good, but there’s something special about that lounge singer style. The best thing I can compare it to is like those episodes of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic where it’s very clear the Cutie Mark Crusaders have found their talents, but they keep trying new things that they’re not quite suited to.
When you take these two parts and combine them into one album though, it’s disjointed like a fun house. Adding the fact that there were a ton of co-writers on this album, it becomes apparent that Panic! has become more of a pop project than a band. Which there is nothing wrong with that, but it comes across like a pop album that becomes more focused on the singles sometimes with no central unifying theme to the whole affair. And while Jake Sinclair is definitely growing into his own as a producer, his style doesn’t have the same kind of polish that his mentor and former music partner Butch Walker had on Too Weird and Vices and Virtues. The mostly Sinclair produced American Beauty/American Psycho by Fall Out Boy had the same problems in comparison to Save Rock and Roll.
Maybe it’s growing pains or a lack of specific focus, but Death of a Bachelor just doesn’t feel as unified as past Panic! at the Disco albums. There are some good threads that I would love to see future albums follow up on, especially with Urie pulling more of the 21st Century Lounge Act. Overall though, Death of a Bachelor is not the actualized identity I was looking for.