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Panic! At the Disco has released their new album called Pray For the Wicked. It features "Say Amen (Saturday Night)", "(F**k A) Silver Lining", "High Hopes", "Hey Look Ma I Made It", and "King of the Clouds". Despite the album only being released on June 22nd 2018 I’ve listen to it about 1,000 times through and I feel like I’m ready to give some insight into what it is like.
Let’s address the elephant in the room: no, this album is not like their “old stuff”, but that does not mean you should instantly write it off. This is only Brendon Urie’s second solo album and he has already adjusted his style so it sounds more electric. Panic! have never released the same album twice and Pray For the Wicked is no exception. Each song is filled with energy and something you could dance to, even if you don’t really know the lyrics just yet. This album is definitely something you could drive around to with windows down playing full blast. It channels a slightly chaotic attitude that Brendon Urie is often associated with.
It’s no secret that Urie was raised a Mormon – he’s never denied that fact, but it isn’t until this album that he has directly addressed this through his music. He’s openly spoken about how having a Mormon upbringing has caused a lot of internalised conflict, from questioning his sexuality to feeling like God was going to hit him with a lightning bolt when he swore for the first time. This album tackles the themes of his childhood head on. He embraces it and ties it into his adult life living in Los Angeles. It explores the conflicting world of LA and how “good vs evil” is not as black and white as religion often demands.
"Say Amen (Saturday Night)" stands out thanks to Urie’s incredibly high note towards the end of the song. I would argue it’s one of his strongest vocal moments to date. It’s clear that he’s had Broadway vocal training (for his role in Kinky Boots). It allowed for a comedic moment in the music video where his high note is explained by him being kicked in the groin, which reflects Urie’s personality really well.
"Roaring 20s" stands is a throwback to his days performing in Kinky Boots but also seems to be tackling something much more. It talks about losing the self, of not knowing who you are or where you’ll be in the future – which is absolutely what the 20s were like. But it’s also a song which you could dance to at a party, which is also what the 20s were known for.
"Old Fashioned" has a similar sound to "Thunder" by Imagine Dragons in places but is still very clearly its own song. It has a beat that you can’t help swaying to, starting out as a hip hop beat but then moving towards a Latin American sound. It talks about remembering times when you were young and has a nostalgic feel to it.
"Dancing’s Not A Crime", "One of the Drunks", and "The Overpass" offer us songs that we can’t help but sing along to. I have to admit that I am more than guilty of belting out "The Overpass" in my car and I can’t help but move when listening to "Dancing’s Not A Crime," regardless of what I’m doing.
Out of all the songs on the album I do have to admit that "King Of The Clouds" is probably my least favourite. I still like the song and listen to it, but it doesn’t have the same speak as the rest of the songs on the album. The message in the lyrics fits the album perfectly, but how the song is delivered just feels pretty odd (no pun intended) to me.
However it’s "Dying in LA" that I really want to talk about. In my opinion Urie has saved the best until last because this is my favourite song on the album, and judging by online reactions a lot of people agree with me. It’s a ballad about the struggles of achieving dreams in LA. My favourite line throughout the entire album features in this song – “Every face along the boulevard is a dreamer just like you.” That line is so poetic and plays on the thinking that LA is where dreams are made and achieved.
Brendon Urie’s willingness to experiment with and change his style means there is no chance of getting bored of Panic! At the Disco – and this is coming from a fan who was there right at the start. Pray For the Wicked isn’t the direction we thought Urie was heading in after 2016’s Death of a Bachelor, which begs the question what comes next? Well in the words of Urie himself in High Hopes “They say it’s all been done but they haven’t seen the best of me.”