'A cocktail of styles, served up by a newborn freedom'
Drew Heatley

15:58 13th January 2016

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 It’s been just over a decade since Panic! At The Disco burst onto the scene with their hotly anticipated debut, A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out. Ten years later frontman Brendon Urie is the band’s only member – and fifth album Death Of A Bachelor sees him back with his heart on his sleeve as he steps out on his own.

Album opener ‘Victorious’ is very much in line with synthpop-drenched fourth album Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die, and while it sets the tempo for the new record, it certainly doesn’t prepare you for the eclectic mix of material that follows: Death Of A Bachelor is very much a patchwork quilt of styles, a product of what Urie describes as having “carte blanche” in the studio.

This cocktail of style is evident on ‘Don’t Threaten Me With A Good Time’, which kicks off with the sampled bass riff of The B52’s ‘Rock Lobster'. The track tells the tale of excess at a party, and Urie admits it’s “half stuff I’ve done while half is embellished”. It’s not an exaggeration to say the surreal and melodic anthem is tailor-made for arena shows.

Tracks one to five had already been released as singles or bonus downloads in the past eight months, such is Brendon’s curiosity to see what fans think of the LP. But despite this, the album’s title track still sounds brand new every time you hear it. It typifies the influences that helped shape this stage of Panic’s sound. This Sinatra-meets-Beyonce number even has a hint of Justin Timberlake – which is perhaps a good omen as Urie starts life as a solo artist in every aspect but name.

That Big Band feel continues on ‘Crazy=Genius’ – a track that might allude to past disagreements within the band. “You’re just like Mike Love, but you want to be Brian Wilson/you’re just like Mike Love, but you’ll never be Brian Wilson”, sings Urie – and when you combine the Beach Boys cousins recent falling out with the fact ex-Panic bassist Ryan Ross left the band in 2009 to pursue the retro Beach Boys-inspired sound from second album ‘Pretty.Odd.’, it’s easy to start jumping to conclusions.

Photo: Gigwise/Chris MacDonald

As Panic! At The Disco continues to evolve in line-up and sound, Death Of A Bachelor might not pull back some of the band’s early devotees, but it’s an exciting new chapter that tells the story of a man free from creative restrictions – and he’s not afraid to explore that newfound freedom. Death of a bachelor? Perhaps rebirth of an artist is more accurate.

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