Although Panic! at the Disco is my favorite band, I haven't loved every album. Especially in recent years, there has been a shift from their early rock sound into more of a pop, mainstream sound.
I'll admit that I was super nervous for "Pray for the Wicked." I wasn't that huge of a fan of "Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die" or "Death of a Bachelor" (beyond its AMAZING title track), however, Brendon Urie put his time in the Broadway musical "Kinky Boots" to good use.
This album has so many positive things going for it, and it is definitely proving to be my favorite album since "Vices and Virtues." Here are just a few of the reasons why I love "Pray for the Wicked."
1. The Sincerity
Whereas "Death of a Bachelor" focused more on celebrating success and enjoying fame, "Pray for the Wicked" focuses more on the journey and what got Urie to this point in his life.
Everything about it is sincere, from "Old Fashioned" referencing the early days of Panic! saying "they were the best of times" and "High Hopes" explaining how he always wanted to have a life like this, even when he had nothing.
2. The '20s Vibe
Everything about the song "Roaring '20s" belongs in "The Great Gatsby," which is one of my favorite movies (the new 2013 one with Leonardo DiCaprio of course). From the horns to the grandiose vocal line, this song is by far a standout on this album.
3. Musical Theatre Influence
Urie's time on Broadway truly shines on this album more than ever before. His voice has always been well suited for musical theatre, and this album showcases it.
One song in particular that really shows this influence is "The Overpass." The chorus-like lines between the verses is meant for the stage. I can picture it in a musical, which perfectly combines two of my favorite things: musical theatre and Brendon Urie's beautiful voice.
My main issue with the past two Panic! albums has been the lyricism. Ryan Ross was the original lyricist of the band before the split in 2009, and Brendon proved that he could still write music on his own with "Vices and Virtues"; however, the past few albums have been so generic and not like the originality the band once held.
This album finally feels original and fresh. Although it is still more mainstream pop than they used to be, it still feels organic and real as opposed to manufactured to be liked. There are even little nods to older songs such as the lyric "sketchy girls and lipstick boys" in "The Overpass" modeling "testosterone boys and harlequin girls" in "Lying is the Most Fun a Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off."
5. Acknowledging More Of The Past
I understand that there have been things in the past that have really hurt Urie, with the split and other issues too deep to get into. Even in interviews from the past few years, he avoids saying the names of former members except for Spencer Smith who stayed with his after the split until 2013 when he left the band for personal issues.
Despite his behavior in the past, Urie finally acknowledges the past and what got him here in this album. "Old Fashioned" is all about the beginning of the band and how they were "the best times of his life."
6. "Dying in L.A."
This song deserves to have its own reason on this list. Every recent album has had a ballad, and this one is definitely my favorite. Even though "This is Gospel" is a fan-favorite song, the album version is too manufactured, and the piano version is significantly better.
This song describes the struggles of someone coming to L.A. and not making it, the exact opposite of what he has done as he describes in"Hey Look Ma, I Made It." This song paints a darker side of L.A. compared to what we heard in "Death of a Bachelor" single "L.A. Devotee." Whether this song is about a younger version of himself, or others he knows in L.A. who haven't made it, this song is probably the best song Urie has ever produced.