‘Pray for the Wicked’ takes the kid-in-a-sweet-shop feel of ‘Death of a Bachelor’ and ratchets it up to eleven.
Label: DCD2 / Fueled By Ramen
Released: 22nd June 2018
You’re following up your most successful album in a decade. What do you do? Embrace the weight of expectation, or take the chance to have some fun? If you’re Panic! at the Disco, of course you do both.
It may have taken a few albums for Brendon Urie to adapt to being the band’s principal songwriter, but on 2016’s ‘Death of a Bachelor’ he took the bull by the horns and emerged victorious with a slick collection indebted equally to Queen and Sinatra.
Now a bona fide arena act and Broadway star, Urie has thrown all rock pretence to the wind in favour of an album of dazzling show tunes. ‘(Fuck a) Silver Lining)’ is a shook-up soda can of sickly sweet hooks and pure glee exploding out of the speakers, and the album rarely lets up from there. The expletives of that chorus belie its radio-friendly character, and it feels like Urie is enjoying pushing buttons with the inherent contradiction.
‘Pray for the Wicked’ takes the kid-in-a-sweet-shop feel of ‘DOAB’ and ratchets it up to eleven. Having made his name on his own terms last time out, this is pure indulgence from a performer clearly having the time of his life. That it overlaps with massive choruses like ‘High Hopes’ is a happy coincidence. It’s more Glee than Green Day, but when has Urie ever bothered himself with the strictures of the scene Panic! emerged from?
‘Dancing’s Not a Crime’ is ‘Rock DJ’ for 2018 and ‘The Overpass’ is a car-chase in a pop song as the guitars drop further back in the mix in favour of the brass section that has become a key part of Panic!’s arsenal.
The lyrical content of a song like ‘Hey Look Ma I Made It’ might seem self-satisfied on paper, but it’s hard not to get bundled along in the infectious foot-stomping sing-along that the words inhabit. If Brendon’s songs can be viewed as a vehicle for his performance, it’s hard to think of a more exuberant and capable showman in rock. With Panic! already secure in their status as arena-pop crossovers, ‘Pray for the Wicked’ is the cherry on top. Dillon Eastoe