After releasing their third studio album, Vices and Virtues, Panic! at the Disco seems to have chosen a slightly different path in comparison to their past work. The band has relied much less on computer generated techno sounds and is now depending on skilled guitarists to back them up. This change stems from the reduced head count of the band, as the group has officially slimmed down to two permanent members. Lead singer and multi-instrumentalist Brendon Urie became the new songwriter once other members of Panic! dropped out, which gave Urie the chance to have full creative control. I would like to commend him on his success of keeping the originality of Panic! alive through the unique lyrics that fans have become so accustomed to.
The lyrics remain quality, but does that mean the music is still good? Even though the sounds are much mellower than the previous Panic! group, I would say yes. However, the first few songs of the album including ""The Ballad of Mona Lisa"" and ""Let's Kill Tonight"" all have similar chord progressions. The first 15 minutes of the album does not successfully catch listeners' attention—it is boring and sounds like every other wannabe pop-rock band I've heard. However, the album becomes much more listenable after this disappointing introduction. The next track, ""Memories"", is just the right amount of drumbeat and computer pop with a splash of orchestral cover. The track is catchy and thought provoking, and in my opinion should have been released as the single instead of ""Mona Lisa."" Although it echoes the backbone of Fall Out Boy and similar artists, it's a break from the monotony that is overdone contemporary pop music.
P!ATD follows this up with the track ""Always"" which is a deeper and more meaningful track about love, which we rarely get to hear. The ballad shows the strength of Urie's voice, and truly allows his talent to come through. The song, full of metaphors and clichés, is raw and full of emotion. This Panic! is comparable to Plain White Ts, which is radically different than what fans are used to, but it adds an extra dimension to the band that I never expected to see. In my opinion, it is the best song on the entire album.
This track is followed up by ""Nearly Witches,"" which is a very intriguing choice. ""Witches"" is a much more sinister track that sounds like something right out of A Fever You Can't Sweat Out. It is a cool combination of new and old that portrays the new (and arguably improved) duo. The taste of creepy combined with cute and classy brings out a new type of Panic! that I can really get into. Sadly, this exciting bubble of new and unexplored territory is quickly popped with the last chunk of tracks—""Stall Me"" and ""Oh Glory"" both sound the same as the intro tracks. Not necessarily boring, the tracks have a been-there-done-that feel. I didn't feel like they had come up with anything new to experience. The album rounded out on a bland note.
Panic! At The Disco is pulling away from their old image—whether it is by choice is questionable. It's definitely not a bad idea, but the new image of Panic! is definitely still a work in progress. Vices and Virtues is an enjoyable roller coaster ride of songs, but don't bother with a seat belt. You won't need it.