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Panic! At The Disco Releases “Pray For The Wicked” [Album Review]

Panic! At The Disco Bring High Hopes and Silver Linings with new Album. An album review from a die-hard Panic! fan.

Panic Brendon Urie
Panic Brendon Urie

On Friday, June 22nd, Panic! At The Disco will finally be dropping their 6th studio album entitled Pray for the Wicked. I had a chance to listen to the record early so I let you in on what you’re in store for!

Essentially a solo project by lead singer Brendon Urie, this album will remind listeners of their last release, Death of a Bachelor, while also changing up the formula a little bit. Although this album isn’t a total genre shift like the previous Panic! albums, it does feel like a natural progression from the previous album.

This album is extremely confident, feels very unified, and has a strong theme throughout. Most tracks feature similar elements— whether its use of synths, creative sampling with altered vocals, or the use of big band and (in some cases) string arrangements.

Lyrically this is the strongest Panic! At The Disco album since Vices and Virtues as verses are crammed with narrative storytelling.

At times the choruses can feel uneven. For example, some songs try to shove in so much lyrical content that the message gets hard to understand and could be written better or differently. However, each is strong and has a lot to say. People are going to compare this to Death of a Bachelor no matter what- and that’s very fair. But while Death of a Bachelor felt less unified at times, this one corrects that by really knowing what it wants to be.

The album artwork ties into the themes of the album very well. The audio and visual aesthetics that flow through this album capture vibes that haven’t been seen since the Vices and Virtues era. Some moments feel like Too Weird to Live met Death of a Bachelor and the two had a child together. There are countless high moments on this album I really dig- while the low moments are pretty hard to
find.

Here is a track by track break down:

(Fuck A) Silver Lining – I recommend listening to the last track of Death of a Bachelor, “Impossible Year,” as it actually fades into this song really well. This opening track sets the scene with a sample voice dedicating the song to you, followed by Brendon Urie coming in with full force. Horns blasting, synths going…this is the new album alright. “Silver Lining” is a confident-as-hell track; an easy listen with simplistic yet strong lyrics and cherries on top.

Say Amen (Saturday Night) – The lead single off the album. The listener hears the common musical elements this album commits to. Sample vocals, synths lining the track, and narrative-driven lyrics more than likely inspired by Urie’s time on Broadway.

“Saturday Night” is the closest thing listeners will get to an arena anthem on this album. It is very similar to other Panic! singles in terms of production- they really found their niche with this song. The vocals are the best they’ve ever been on this track with the highest note Brendon has ever recorded on record. It is a shining moment and a well-performing song. With 15M views so far on Youtube and hit #60 on the Billboard, this is a good showing for Panic! in the mainstream.

Hey Look Ma, I Made It – Made alongside his friend Dillon Francis, this song is a tongue and cheek approach to Brendon’s success. It’s a fun concept, but quite honestly not one of my favorites of the tracks. The vocals are very suppressed under heavier production and its placement on the track listing seems awkward. I think the lyrics are pretty okay…it says a lot but at times feels unbalanced. Still a solid song with an awesome instrumental organization.

High Hopes – This is one of my favorite tracks. The horns are on point, the lyrics flow better than most of the songs on the album, and I love the string section. Although I am not a huge fan of the programmed drums in this song, there are glimmers of classic Panic!. It is an enticing, good song that really represents the strengths of this record.

Roaring 20’s – I fucking adore this song. Inspired by his summer on Kinky Boots, this song explores Brendon’s anxieties and perfectly captures a transformative time in his life. The jazz band is super strong and reminds me of a dialed back Crazy = Genius. The line, “roll me like a blunt cause I wanna go home”, is clever as fuck. I look forward to this song live. Love it.

Dancing Is Not A Crime – Brendon sure does love his clever lines. “Filthy As Charged” is yet another fun lyric. Overall this song is repetitive but it’s a fun bop-  and puts a smile on my face. I love the sampled synths in the song, it’s very colorful. Overall it’s well produced and captures the listener’s attention in a positive way. Not the greatest on the album, but you have to be pretty
cynical to dislike a song like this.

One of the Drunks – I really love synths…the opening of this song is so good. However, as a whole, the song is ‘meh’ for me. The lyrics repeat the most out of any of the songs on the album, but the underlying production keeps me coming back. It’s ‘ear-wormy’ and I am going to come back to this a lot. It needs to grow on me some more. But for right now I have a lot of other tracks I’m vibing with more.

The Overpass – This better be the opening song on the tour. This song should’ve been higher on the track listing. I love the opening part of the song, I dig the ‘let me hear you say something’ sample. It’s such a fun song—I can see this in a Disney movie with its instrumentation. I love timestamp 1:55- its cool, cinematic, and smooth. A perfect representation of what makes this album a significant moment in the Panic! Discography.

King of Clouds – A stand out track on the album. The song opens with isolated vocals building up to huge heights (possibly to the clouds of which Mr. Urie is king of). This song was teased in April/Late March and fans have been eating it up.

Old Fashioned – I liked this song the least off the album but it doesn’t mean much because this album is already so good. Lyrically it’s just boring to me but it is saved by Urie’s strong vocals and the choir moment towards the end.

Dying In LA – I’m sure this one will find it’s way in my top 10 Panic! songs. Great album closer. Panic likes to end on slower songs like “End of All Things” and “Impossible Year.” I hope this gets played live.

Overall, I love Pray for the Wicked. It gave me everything I wanted and more. I am not sure where I would rank against other Panic! Albums because it just came out, so it needs more time.

But I do know I like it a lot.

I love how you can hear elements from every Panic! era. Synths from Too Weird To Live, Sinatra throwbacks from DOB, arrangements like Pretty. Odd., lyrics as good as Vices and Virtues, and theatrical elements as big as Fever. This album has something for every Panic! fan.

I would give the album a 4/5. It has a strong narrative thread, a unified sound, and pans out to be one of the best Panic! At The Disco albums in years. If there is any song you may dislike at first listen, it will grow on you quickly. This album capitalizes on the success of Death of a Bachelor and raises the bar along the way.

What do you think?

Written by Dylan Novacek

Graphic designer and photographer from Saint Paul, Minnesota. Fan of mid 2000s emo, late 90s boy bands and everything in between. Recent graduate from Concordia, Saint Paul. Check out my work: https://dylannovacek.myportfolio.com/

One Comment

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  1. Great review, looking forward to the new album tomorrow

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