Intro: Pop/Rock/Emo/Whatever-you-want-to-call-them outfit Panic at the Disco may have dropped the exclamation mark from their name, but on their new sophomore release they assure their loyal fans, “you don’t have to worry ’cause we’re still the same band.” So then why does “Pretty. Odd.”sound absolutely nothing like their breakthrough debut?
Pros: PATD have scrapped just about everything that made them who they were: no more power chords, synthesizers or carnival costumes. Even their trademark pretentious, cramped song titles and lyrics are missing. Instead we get a more mature – if more bland – record that’s warm, lush, adventurous and varied.
Cons: In fact, PATD draw from an almost self-consciously broad swath of folk, country, jazz and – especially – classic rock influences. But they don’t take them anywhere new; some tracks even border on parody.
Furthermore, each song is jam-packed with as many instruments and sounds as possible, leaving a feeling of self-indulgent oversaturation. It doesn’t help that the album is 15 tracks long.
Definitive Song: Trippy lyrics (“the moon fell in love with the sun”) meet trippy musical influences (a Beatles-inspired sitar hook) in the enjoyable “When the Day Met the Night.” But like the rest of the album, the song lacks solidarity and its would-be moments of understated beauty are drenched in piano, horns and strings.
Conclusion: Panic at the Disco’s sophomore effort is indeed both pretty and odd. Its baroque tunes are occasionally lacking and often hindered by excess but at least the band is going in new places. So when Brendon Urie wails, “Things have changed for me, and that’s okay,” he’s absolutely right: “Pretty. Odd.” is different and it’s okay. Not good, not bad – just OK.
Staff writer Nick Scheidies can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.