Panic At The Disco - Pretty. Odd.
Release Date: March 25, 2008
Record Label: Decaydance/Fueled By Ramen
Oh how it’s been so long, we’re so sorry we’ve been gone. We were busy writing songs for you. You don’t have to worry ‘cuz we’re still the same band.
Those are the first words uttered by Panic At The Disco’s Brendon Urie on “We’re So Starving,” the opening track of his band’s second album, Pretty. Odd..
Good joke guys, gooooood joke.
If you’re looking for hyperactive vocals paced by synths, Pretty. Odd. is not the album you’re gonna play, because it seems that the Las Vegas quartet have sweated out that fever known as the dance-rock trend. Instead, guitarist/lyricist Ryan Ross spent his spare time going to garage sales and scourging for as many Beatles and Beach Boys records he could find and reinvented his writing style. Instead of using witty pop culture references as a basis for his lyrics, Ross’ style on Pretty. Odd. is sometimes insightful, sometimes infuriating, but mostly just nonsensical (he seems to enjoy moons).
I could spend all day in this review mentioning every reference/influence/ripping off of The Beatles that Panic uses, but that’d be a waste of our time and probably result in a very boring review. Basically, if we were in your parents generation right now, Pretty. Odd. would be the one of the greatest records ever. Unfortunately for them (and us?), it’s 2008. So is this a good record or not? It depends on who you are. If you are a teenage girl, the band has traded in shotgun weddings for koo koo ca-choo’s, so you may be disappointed.
As for everyone else, you’ll probably be quick to point out how the influences on Pretty. Odd. leapfrog between Let It Be to Magical Mystery Tour and how unoriginal the band is. Let’s face the facts, originality in music these days is all but dead and there is a fine line between bands being influenced by said band or just straight up stealing from them. And Panic At The Disco tiptoe that fine line oh so delicately throughout the album.
First single “Nine In The Afternoon” is a jangling tune backed with big drums and horns and is a surefire hit as a single, but may be the only one on the entire album. “She’s A Handsome Woman” is a fun ditty, featuring a guitar riff up to no good and big vocals in the chorus from Urie, whom has definitely found the right range for his vocals on the album, as the whining sound heard on Fever is all but gone now. “That Green Gentlemen” carries on a happy-go-lucky vibe, while “Pas de Cheval” is definitely an ode to The Fab Four’s “Get Back” and “Magical Mystery Tour.”
The oddest thing, though, about the album is when the band strips down the instruments and slow it down, especially when one is used to the plethora of samples and instruments used on Fever. “Do You Know What I’m Seeing” features the soft strum of an acoustic guitar and well placed bursts of a harmonica, while “Northern Downpour” is a simple ballad featuring some decent harmonizing from Urie and Ross.
And if there weren’t enough curveballs already, you’ll be taken aback with “Behind The Sea” as Ross takes over lead vocal duties, and doesn’t do too bad of a job. “From a Mountain in the Middle of the Cabins” is horn-heavy, and the album closes with the uppity “Mad as Rabbits,” a track full of “flower-power” (did I seriously just use that term?) and has potential of being a decent second single.
For fans and critics alike, Panic At The Disco have been an easy target at times to pick on (sometimes it's deserved), and yes there will be a good handful criticizing the band for ripping off the Beatles. As for me, I do think Pretty. Odd. is a good album, as it is an enjoyable listen. Will this album spark a new trend of bands going the ‘60’s pop music route? Depends on how well this sells. Either way, I’m glad Panic dropped the Ringling Bros. act, the exclamation point, and picked up on music history and incorporating it into their (new) sound. The new album has shaken everything up, with lovers possibly forsaking the band for ditching its synth/dance/pop sound, while the haters may enjoy the band for changing it up. And that within itself is pretty odd.
It does sound like EVRYTHING from the 70's and it does tiptoe the line of ripping them off, but I do have to say its WAYYY better then that last piece of crap they put out...We don't even mention its name.