Album review: Panic! at the Disco’s “Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die!”

Album review: Panic! at the Disco's

Kaitlyn McCurdy

panic
On Oct. 8, Panic! at the Disco released their highly anticipated fourth studio album, debuting a new electric, hip hop inspired sound. And yet, they still maintain their pop punk/rock roots.
Source: fueledbyramen.com

by Kaitlyn McCurdy

If you say you never had a Panic! at the Disco phase, you’re lying. I distinctly remember dancing around my room to “I Write Sins, Not Tragedies” for days on end and pretending I was much cooler than I actually was. That’s the power of music, I guess.

So, with that tidbit, you can guess that the moment I caught wind of a new Panic! album, I was in a frenzy. 2013 has been a year of great music, with Fall Out Boy, Justin Timberlake, and more releasing highly anticipated albums, and Panic! jumped on the bandwagon. Fans everywhere impatiently counted down the days until Oct. 8, and now that it’s past, praise for the band’s fourth effort, “Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die!” is still rolling in.

Panic!’s latest album is obviously Vegas-inspired; full of electric beats, booming choruses and fantastic vocals. The band has always had a knack for changing their sound and experimenting, and it tends to works out beautifully for them. “Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die!” doesn’t disappoint.

“This Is Gospel”

Honestly, the moment “This Is Gospel” starts, you know it’s going to be good. The track is just so easy to love, with it’s slow buildup to the chorus and frontman Brendon Urie’s ridiculously good vocals. It’s so well-crafted, from the lyrics (“if you love me, let me go / these words are knives and often leave scars / the fear of falling apart / and truth be told, I never was yours”) to the heartbeat rhythm at the beginning and everything in-between. It’s no wonder this track serves as both the opener to the album and the second single. It’s a true masterpiece in my mind.

“Miss Jackson”

Urie describes “Miss Jackson” as “hip hop inspired,” and while, yes, that’s true, down at the core, the track is still incredibly rock and roll. In fact, it’s very reminiscent of Fall Out Boy’s new sound, which isn’t a bad thing at all. Incredibly smart to use this one as the first single; it’s fast-paced and addictive. You simply cannot skip this track. If crowds don’t scream “are you nasty?” and headbang while the band rocks this one live, I really will lose all hope in humanity.

“Vegas Lights”

Electro beat, crazy synth line, chorus of children; that sums up this track. Obviously, it’s an ode to Vegas, and has a very 80s feel to it. Incredibly catchy, incredibly easy to dance to, incredibly fun. In an interview, Urie expressed a desire to create a party album, and this track definitely doesn’t hurt that ambition.

“Girl That You Love”

Every great album has at least one flaw, and this track is it for “Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die!” It’s pretty disappointing, actually, and it does absolutely nothing for the album. The beat is so bland, it could almost put you to sleep. Fun fact, though, is that Urie originally wrote it in French after a vacation in Paris. So, there’s that.

“Nicotine”

And the album’s back on track with “Nicotine.” Don’t let the title fool you. I know you’re probably thinking it’s a stereotypical “your love is my drug” (hi, Ke$ha) kind of song, but it’s so much more. While, yes, it does compare love to a drug, Urie’s lyrics set it apart. “I taste you on my lips and I can’t get rid of you / so I say damn your kiss and the awful things you do” leads into the chorus, and wow, when I said “booming choruses” up top, I wasn’t lying. Brace yourself for this one, you won’t be able to stop listening to it.

“Girls/Girls/Boys”

The third single off the album, “Girls/Girls/Boys” takes on a more provocative nature, and it keeps you hooked all the way to the last note. The song is borderline anthemic, actually. Like “Girl That You Love,” it’s very 80s-inspired, but unlike “Girl That You Love,” it’s not boring.

“Casual Affair”

This one is similar to “The Ballad of Mona Lisa” from “Vices and Virtues” in it’s creepy, dramatic nature, and it’s a much darker tone than the rest of the album. Urie’s vocals shine in “Casual Affair,” and the loud instrumental (complete with another amazing synth line) won’t let you press skip. It’s a fantastic tune, and it’s a nice change-up from the rest.

“Far Too Young to Die”

When I first listened to “Far Too Young to Die,” I liked it, but I didn’t love it. I didn’t have a real desire to go back on play this one over and over, unlike many of the other songs from this album. However, within three or four more listens, I was addicted. It, by far, has the most electric-driven instrumental on the effort, until you hit roughly the three minute mark. This blaring, crazy, awesome rock explosion carries the track to the end. Now, that, my friends, alone is what hooked me. Don’t ask me why it took me so long to fall in love, I’m questioning it myself. Crazy me.

“Collar Full”

“Collar Full” is song with, unsurprisingly, great lyrics and a fun, upbeat melody. The chorus will definitely have you scream-singing along, especially with the last few lines of it (“show me your love, you love / before the world catches up / cuz there’s always time for second guesses, I don’t wanna know / if you’re gonna be the death of me, that’s how I wanna go”) and you can’t help but jump and dance along with it. It’s absolutely one of my favorites off the record.

“The End of All Things”

Ending the album on a somber, romantic note, “The End of All Things” was actually written by Urie for his wedding. Yeah. How cute is that? No wonder this song is just so elegant, with an almost lullaby-like quality to it. It’s nothing but Urie’s voice (though autotuned, but still pretty, and it actually helps the song here) and a piano, and it’s absolutely gorgeous. There’s no way Urie’s wife wasn’t melting at the lyrics (“in these coming years / many things will change / but the way I feel / will remain the same / lay us down / we’re in love”). It’s a perfect closer for the album, slowing it all down and wrapping the album up with a nice little bow. Another favorite of mine.

It’s such a shame that the bonus tracks for the Target deluxe edition, “Can’t Fight Against the Youth” and “All the Boys,” aren’t just on the standard edition. “All the Boys,” in particular, would be nice to help break up all the electronic, party songs with it’s rock and roll feel. I’d much rather listen to either of these tracks than “Girl That You Love,” but hey, this is one of the times where it’s fantastic that I always have to have the deluxe edition.

“Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die!” has to be one of the best albums of 2013. While it’s experimental in nature, it never feels like the band is taking a risk, as it’s well-crafted and sophisticated. After you listen to the album for the first time, and you’ll either love it or hate it. There is no in-between with this one. Love it, and you’ll have it on repeat for weeks. This isn’t a joke. I actually haven’t listened to much else since I picked it up on Oct. 8. It’s turning into a problem.

The greatest thing about Panic! at the Disco is that all four albums they’ve released in their almost ten years together never, ever sound exactly alike, but they’re consistently good. Panic! has really become a genre all their own. “Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die!” is so vastly different, and yet, you still get a sense that it’s the same band that released “A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out” back in the peak days of pop-punk/emo. Urie’s musical genius is something to be admired, and it’s apparent in every track Panic! releases.

…So, when’s the next album?

Tracks you can’t skip: “Miss Jackson,” “Nicotine,” “Collar Full”
The only track I’ll let you skip: “Girl That You Love”

Lucky for you, the band uploaded the entire (standard edition) album to YouTube. You can listen to it now, here, for free. It’s already in playlist format, so you don’t even have to leave this page. Go forth, press play and enjoy.