Panic! at the Disco frontman Brendon Urie has now become the only man in the Las Vegas rock band; drummer Spencer Smith’s departure in April 2015 left the lead singer/multi-instrumentalist as the last standing member. Rather than rebrand himself as a solo artist, Urie decided to carry on Panic!’s legacy and release a new album. The result of his efforts is Panic!’s fifth studio album Death of a Bachelor, available worldwide as of yesterday.
Starting off with the synth-heavy, energy-boosting anthem “Victorious” (co-written by Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo) and ending with the Frank Sinatra-inspired “Impossible Year,” it’s obvious that Death of a Bachelor draws from a variety of influences and musical styles. New for their sound is the big band instrumentation heard on tracks like “Crazy = Genius” and “Death of a Bachelor,” while Urie’s lyrical calisthenics hearkens back to the band’s debut, A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out. The album is a strong mix of diverse tracks that have one thing in common: they allow Urie’s powerhouse voice to shine.
Fans shouldn’t be apprehensive about the new sounds. Death of a Bachelor recalls the original spirit of Panic! at the Disco very well; in addition to the effervescent lyrics, the album has tons of energy and pop culture references. These references are allusions to varied group of musicians that have inspired Urie throughout his life. For example, Frank Sinatra’s influence on Urie is quite obvious when you give the title track “Death of a Bachelor” a listen. Several Beach Boys are name-dropped in “Crazy = Genius,” a rollicking track about an ex-lover’s lack of belief in Urie’s musical talent. My personal favorite comes in “Don’t Threaten Me with a Good Time,” arguably the best song on the album. The track details the aftermath of a wild night out, with each chorus kicking off with “Champagne, cocaine, gasoline/And most things in between,” and sampling the famous guitar riff from “Rock Lobster” by The B-52s.
The true greatness of Death of a Bachelor comes from Urie’s unstoppable energy and passion; even the songs that might not be considered as memorable as the gospel-inspired rock number “Hallelujah” or the seductive “Emperor’s New Clothes,” hold their own thanks to Urie’s enthusiasm and willingness to introduce new sound into his repertoire. That was the entire point, really. This album was supposed to be about Urie reconnecting with his love of making music in the first place, something that is clear from even one listen.