Listen to This: ‘Death Of A Bachelor’ fuses dance-pop, punk rock and jazz
Panic! At The Disco’s fifth album is an energizing blend of genres.
Jan. 27, 2016
Panic! At The Disco has been through a lot since “I Write Sins Not Tragedies.” From the success of “Nine In The Afternoon” to “This is Gospel (Piano Version)” becoming a Vine meme, Panic! At The Disco has accompanied Fall Out Boy at the forefront of the evolution of pop-punk. While only one member of the original lineup, lead vocalist Brendon Urie, remains, Urie continues this evolution with Panic! At The Disco’s fifth album, “Death Of A Bachelor.”
“Death Of A Bachelor” fuses punk rock, dance-pop and jazz into an album that sounds like someone smashed together an energetic nightclub, a live jazz joint and the iPod of a rebellious teenager in 2008. For anyone looking for an interesting new genre to give a chance, this album provides a unique mixture new to pop-punk. As far as ratings go, the evolution seems to be for good: “Death of a Bachelor” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, a first for any Panic! At The Disco record.
The album starts with the very upbeat and intense single “Victorious.” This success anthem introduces “Death Of A Bachelor” with electric guitar, a heavy beat and well-spun lyrics like “Eyes like broken Christmas lights” and “Double bubble disco queen headed to the guillotine.” From the very first track, it is clear that this album is very different from early-2000s alternative-based punk. Rather, it’s one of the most interesting combinations of genres in new music.
The party side of “Death Of A Bachelor” is prominent in the dance-punk heavy songs, such as “Hallelujah,” “Emperor’s New Clothes” and “House of Memories.” This pop mixes with the underlying punk base of the group in tracks like “Golden Days” and “Don’t Threaten Me with a Good Time,” two songs on the album that are most reminiscent of older Panic! At The Disco records. One of the best predominantly pop-punk songs on the tracklist is “LA Devotee,” a song that’s both fun to listen to and sing along with, complete with a background of electronic instruments, brass and prominent drums.
However, the standout tracks of the album are most definitely the ones with the most jazz influences. The title track, one of two slow songs on the album, exemplifies how great a mixture of modern pop-punk and ’50s-era jazz standards can be. This mellow ballad features Urie’s low and belting vocals, modern electronic mixing and a soulful brass section. While “Victorious” is a fun song, this contemporary take on swing would make a great single.
“Crazy=Genius” introduces a different side of jazz influence with upbeat swing drumbeats and brass licks. Unlike the melodious “Death of a Bachelor,” this track’s chorus is best yelled at top volume. Another track making great use of a brass section is “The Good, the Bad and the Dirty,” which also sports a very singable chorus.
“Impossible Year” closes the album as the complete opposite of the opening track “Victorious.” This is the second slow song on the album, and it’s quite an interesting song to find on a punk album considering it sounds more like Frank Sinatra than any other artist. Piano and jazz wind instruments provide the backing for one of the best parts of the track: Urie’s vocals. It’s a great end to a unique album.
While Panic! At The Disco fans will be pleased with the entire tracklist, including the fun and upbeat dance-punk tracks, the true stars of “Death Of A Bachelor” are the tracks that prove punk and jazz can be mixed to make something great. It may take a few listens to get used to, but it’s certainly a combination worth investigating. This genre-mix isn’t for everyone, and the album could certainly benefit from more diversity; there are only two slow songs on the album, and since they’re so good, it would’ve been nice to hear more of them. Still, it’s one of the most interesting evolutions in recent popular music and I, for one, am all in favor of a full-time switch to Panic! At The Jazz Club.
MOVE gives “Death Of A Bachelor” 4.5 out of 5 stars.