HomeMusicPanic! At The Disco Hits New High With 'Pray For The Wicked'

Panic! At The Disco Hits New High With ‘Pray For The Wicked’

Panic! at the Disco Pray for the Wicked

In one of the best tracks from Panic! At The Disco’s Death of a Bachelor, an anonymous girl tells frontman Brendon Urie he’ll never be Brian Wilson. Instead, he’s like Mike Love, and proves that crazy equals genius.

Panic’s new album Pray for the Wicked proves to be Urie’s quest to inch closer to Wilson, a wicked wordsmith with even stronger arrangements.

A wildly successful evolution, this is the Vegas band’s Pet Sounds. The overall sound continues to shift from the “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” days while championing Panic’s roots and deepening the personality that Bachelor built.

The band’s latest two albums seem intrinsically tied together. Bachelor opened up with “Victorious” while Wicked’s “Silver Lining” mocks the idea that everything is cherries on top. While Bachelor plays as a modern ode to Vegas crooners, Pray for the Wicked plays like a “Best Of” album decades before in advance. With each track building off the next, there’s not one that should be skipped.

Between all the genre switches from the meta “Roaring 20s” swing beat to the ballad of “Dying in LA,” there’s a rare sense of pragmatism and self-reflection. For each rejection of a silver lining, there’s hope tethered to guidance. Miraculously, that toes the line between pandering and celebration with songs like “High Hopes” and “Hey Look Ma, I Made It” becoming the album’s greatest anthems.

More important than Urie’s prayer for the wicked, is his call to the faithless. That’s the album’s ultimate through line, a reminder to those with dreams in the clouds that there’s a process to follow before you can look back. But even then, the process is the best of times, the high-life isn’t always as enjoyable as the days when stardust gets in dreamers’ eyes.

There’s a fair amount that leans on the sentimental, but Urie more than justifies that. For good measure, he even opens one track with an apology before dialing up a lifetime of memories again, continuing to plunge into a booze and drug-filled life.
With more than enough emotional and philosophical heft to carry the album, it’s not afraid to have fun. Complete with a Michael Jackson reference, “Dancing’s Not a Crime” is a surefire success, pulled straight from the 80s. Tone down Urie’s energetic vocals and drop the tempo a few paces, there’s a great Genesis song there.

For all the directions the album dares to go — without disconnect — it’s a shame that more couldn’t be done to make a standalone story. The band’s last tour included a cover of Billy Joel’s “Movin’ Out,” a perfect story-driven song much like Panic’s breakthrough “I Write Sins Not Tragedies.” There’s a fine narrative that’s thread through the track list but lacks that connection that Urie has shown fondness. Though, it is a genius move to make a trilogy with “Say Amen”, “This is Gospel”, and “Emperor’s New Clothes.”

Even more unfortunate, Panic still hasn’t produced something as powerful as “This is Gospel.” Though, “Hey Look Ma, I Made It” and “Dying in LA” sure come close. But this stanza opening the former is possibly Urie’s single greatest moment:

“All my life I’ve been hustlin’
And tonight is my appraisal
‘Cause I’m a hooker selling songs
And my pimp’s a record label”

Urie has truly evolved as a writer, finding more moments to plant his poetic sensibilities and pop culture literacy. Not only is there a Queen B reference, but even a remix of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” among other nuggets.

This is a massive achievement and true labor of love and the band’s overall greatest work to date.

Best Songs: “Hey Look Ma, I Made It,” “Dying in LA,” “High Hopes,” “Old Fashioned”

Pray for the Wicked Rating: 8.5 out of 10

BONUS: Pair “LA Devotee” and “Dying in LA” together. While they couldn’t be more different stylistically, the two tell a wonderful tale of life in LA, warning of the city’s seduction.


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