Thursday, November 7, 2013

Album Review: Panic! at the Disco - Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die!

Album Rating: C
It's always nice when an album title provides the perfect summary line for a lazy writer, and I have to thank whoever decided on Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die!. The new Panic! At the Disco album is neither weird nor rare, and comes across entirely as a tired attempt to get with the times by copying their friends and hopping on the electro-pop bandwagon. To Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die! is completely tepid and unmoving, and the gives the impression of being different simply for the sake of being different. While their more devoted fans will eat it up the same way most Fall Out Boy fans devoured Save Rock and Roll, there is so little substance to it past the tired synths and electric-fused Imagine Dragons-style anthemic pounds that unless one listens to it with their mind already made up, it goes in through one ear and out the other.

That's not to say it's unpleasant to listen to; there are a couple songs that make good impressions and never really let go of them. Opener “This is Gospel” is an effective pop single in an album designed to be full of them, but it's punchy and memorable, with enough of a hint of pop-punk to appeal to nostalgia about the band's first album. “Casual Affair” and “Miss Jackson” are hindered only by some poor decision-making in sections, and while neither stands out, they do fit the sound front-man Brendon Urie seems to be after. Too many songs rely on tedious drum machines and lame dubstep, like “Girls/Girls/Boys”, which lead one to wonder what could've been rather than how interesting and different they are. None of the songs are offensively bad, or the huge swing-and-a-misses that used to mar their previous work, but considering how much Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die! is meant to be a sonic evolution it never really thrills or pushes boundaries. Enjoyment of this album, or really any emotion other than mild indifference, is based on either how much one loves the band, or thinks that “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark” was a standard by which all pop-punk revival efforts should be measured.

A Fever You Can't Sweat Out, for all of its excesses, embarrassingly Myspace-gothic tendencies, and reckless flamboyance, was an interesting listen. It combined a bit of everything and, as a result, stood out from the Fall Out Boys and other “emo” bands of the time. However, in 2013, combining a bit of everything has become the cliche in and of itself, and the combination of electronics and more poppy than ever songwriting forces Panic!'s new album to slide neatly behind its homogeneous counterparts. Back when the band started, maybe Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die! would have been something worth talking about, but at this point it's an entirely forgettable outing by a band who, for all their flaws, were at least never guilty of that.

Artist Website

1. This Is Gospel
2. Miss Jackson
3. Vegas Lights
4. Girl That You Love
5. Nicotine
6. Girls/Girls/Boys
7. Casual Affair
8. Far Too Young To Die
9. Collar Full
10. The End of All Things

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