Let’s just get it out of the way: Panic! At the Disco sounds like Fall Out Boy. Extraordinarily so. And it certainly hasn’t gone unnoticed: “Is this Patrick Stump’s side project?” and “I honestly thought this was Fall Out Boy playing a joke on people until they started playing shows” are common replies in news posts here regarding the band. You get the idea. Let’s just accept the fact that they’re a bit derivative (hell, they christened themselves after a line in the Name Taken song “Panic”), and go from there.
There has been a shit-load of buzz regarding Panic!: their idea of posting clips of songs from the album on Purevolume on Fridays and full versions on Tuesdays has almost necessitated a good many news posts on AP and on other webzines, which in turn has really put their name out there and gotten people talking about them. Here’s the thing though—people wouldn’t care talk about them unless they were really good, or really bad. And they’re not really bad.
Panic! does sound indeed like Fall Out Boy vocally, but I’d have to say that their music is much more interesting and original—it certainly has that pop punk feel, but they blend in drum machines, synthesized keys, the occasional “Cher”/auto-tune vocal effect, and during the second half of the album, vaudevilleian piano parts, all which give it a very unique sound: at times, A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out will compel you dance around your room, and other times, you’d swear you’ve found yourself thrown into the set of one of those black and white pantomime comedies.
When I read Panic!’s biography earlier this week, and they claimed that the album was divided into two halves, the first being “futuristic” with drum machines and electronics, the second being “nostalgic,” complete with “Vaudevillian pianos and accordions,” I sure as hell didn’t believe it. Biographies are usually just straight up lies. Well, Panic!’s biography was fairly accurate, as the two halves they had mentioned do indeed exist, but the songs aren’t “totally” different as they had claimed. There’s an intermission track which actually does serve as an intermission (unlike many albums these days), as it starts out with very techno/rave-y electronic music, and then switches to the eery/creepy vaudevillian pianos, serving as a fine transition between the two separate halves of the album. The second half of the album isn’t all that much different from the first, there are just tinges of the “nostalgic” element they were speaking of (“There’s a Good Reason These Tables Are Numbered Honey, You Just Haven’t Thought of it Yet” is definitely very vaudevillian though, the old-time piano weaving its way throughout the song). It’s definitely an interesting idea, and I commend them for that.
A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out is ridiculously catchy. Ridiculously. I could quote many lines from songs and tell you which songs are full of hooks, but that wouldn’t really serve to prove that it’s catchy. Just know that you will not be able to get these songs out of your head.
Haven’t you people ever heard of closing a god damn door?
You’re probably wondering where my rating for the album is. I don’t think I can give it an accurate rating quite yet, simply because I haven’t been able to spend a long time with the album. This is one of those CDs that is immediately gratifying and attractive, but I’m not sure how I’ll feel about it in the long run. I was addicted to Fall Out Boy’s From Under the Cork Tree when it first came out, but after the first few weeks that I listened to it, I have pretty much never had the desire to put it on—and it’s not because they’ve gotten big or anything, because when I do listen to that album, it’s enjoyable. It’s just not something that I’m compelled to listen to when I’m given the choice. I’ll come back maybe in a month or so and write an addendum and let you guys know how I feel about this release.
In “London Beckoned Songs About Money Written by Machines,” Panic! sings out in the chorus “We’re just a wet dream for the web zine / Make us hit (?) / Make us hip / Make us scene / Or shrug us off your shoulders / Don’t approve a single word that we wrote.” I don’t think I could classify Panic! as a “wet dream” for me right now, but I’m not going to “shrug them off” or disapprove of “every single word” that they wrote. Panic! At the Disco’s A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out is totally enjoyable. Dare I say I would take this over From Under the Cork Tree? Panic! sounds a lot cleaner, they’re tighter than Fall Out Boy, and they’ve thrown in their own unique twist to the genre. For a band that hadn’t ever played a show before they recorded this album, I’m pretty amazed. They sound mature, and they know exactly what they’re doing—traits that that bands are “supposed” to acquire only after endless tours and after writing many albums. This album won’t change your life or your perception of the universe, or anything “deep” like that, but if you like Fall Out Boy, you will like this band. If you don’t like Fall Out Boy, I don’t know that you’ll like Panic!—who knows though, maybe you’ll appreciate the electronics and the stuff like that; give it a shot, no harm done. I have a feeling this band could be huge. But anyways, if you’ll excuse me now, I need to go dance around my room.