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Panic! at the Disco – Vices and Virtues album review

Panic! at the Disco Vices and Virtues

The new album from the pop punk, emo duo Panic! at the Disco is a splashy show, full of high drama, and emotionally loaded lyrics. This is the third Panic! at the Disco album but the first release since the 2009  announcement that 2 of the 4 members were leaving the group.  The departure of Ryan Ross (guitar) and John Walker (bass) was ambicable and it seems that the remaining members (Brendon Urie and Spencer Smith) have produced an album that returned to their theatical pop punk roots. Vices and Virtues marks a couple of big changes in Panic!’s history and in their career path but it also delivers a pop filled punch of high enegry bubblegum punk songs.

The band’s orchestration is excellent.  The way the band diversifies their songs’ musical settings is one of their strengths. For example,  the single “Ballad of Mona Lisa,” if it were played with just a 4 piece set up (guitar, bass, drums, vocals), the song would be catchy but nothing special. The additions of the strings, xylophone, multiple vocal harmonies, auxiliary guitar lines etc. make the song more than just another catchy pop tune and this is true throughout the album.

“Always” serves as the highlight of this album for me. It shows that although Panic! excells at writing up beat power ballads, they can also tone it down. The track features strings, woodwinds and some percussion, but the song on it’s own does not need these add ons. The song would still be great if it were just vocals and acoustic guitar. The melody is haunting and yet uplifting  and Urie’s delivery is capitivating. It is a more intimate musical expression.

However, as with most of the other tracks the lyrics leaving something to be desired. The lyrics often feel as if the band is trying too hard to be creative. “I’m a fly that’s trapped in a web, but I’m thinking that my spider’s dead.” Most of the tracks feature some lyrics that make me cringe, but the lacking of lyrical profiency is covered up by the fact that the songs just make you want to hop up and down and sing along. This is an album that I would recommend buying for your 13 year old cousin and also as a guilty pleasure for yourself.

By Alexa Donaldson

I work for a musical instrument company and I live in southern CT with my boyfriend and my dog. I am a cello player, singer and arranger. In the past I have worked for a record studio and a record label. I have a degree in music from the University of Rochester and I'm exploring the idea of getting phd in musicology. My end goal is to listen and discuss music for a living.

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