Panic! At The Disco have shifted gear and switched lanes – Pray For The Wicked stands as evidence. Brendon Urie has done away with the days of ‘I Write Sins’ and their first album A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out, shifting to a completely different sound to what their audience used to associate them with.
However, Panic!’s new sound hasn’t come as a surprise to all. They’ve slowly evolved their musical stylings into something new through Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die and then Death Of A Bachelor. The sounds from those albums were refreshing and had a satisfying aesthetic across every song. Unfortunately, Pray For The Wicked is an entirely different story.
Pray For The Wicked isn’t awful by any means but there’s something odd about the album as a whole. Some of the songs, such as ‘Dying in LA’ and ‘Hey, Look Ma I Made It’, still channel some familiarity to what Panic! have begun to shy away from, while simultaneously adopting an unheard sound. A lot of the other songs feel like they’re trying too hard to embody an aesthetic or a theme and it feels like they’re forcing it down the listener’s throat. As a result, these songs (most of their recent singles are guilty) end up playing like musical gibberish.
Even after a few listens, it’s tricky to remember which song was which. The names aren’t lengthy and wordy like Panic!’s old music used to be, so there’s no challenge for the listener to remember the unnecessarily tedious title of their favourite song. On the other hand, the names aren’t short and catchy enough to remember why they’re called that, or to put a name to a sound.
This doesn’t mean the songs are bad, it just means that the album tries too hard to be different and cohesive simultaneously. Which means that it ends up dull and completely disjointed at several points. It’s an enjoyable listen, but for hardcore fans of the band this album may be a little disappointing.
It’s hard to say positive things about the album when it is so underwhelming. Brendon Urie hasn’t suddenly forgotten how to sing – he’s still vocally impeccable. The song lyrics are at times ambiguous (intentionally, and in a good way) and Panic! still blurs the line between optimism and pessimism satisfyingly in their lyrics and sound.
The album is undeniably worth a listen, for fans and new listeners alike. The sound is vastly different to what Panic! used to be, which could easily bring in new fans. Pray For The Wicked isn’t a step backwards,it just feels like they’ve decided to stagnate and stand still for a while.
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