Few bands have had a career as long and successful as that of Panic! At the Disco. Even tough the band has existed for over a decade, the Las Vegas natives have managed to change up their sound with every album released. From the chaotic techno-frenzy of A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out to more pop-rock inspired Too Weird To Live,Too Rare To Die!, fans are left surprised after the release of every new track.
Among the fanaticism surrounding Panic!’s music, one of their albums is often overlooked; and seems to sit in the shadows of the more commercially successful records they have produced. This album is entitled Pretty. Odd., and could arguably be called Panic! At the Disco’s most original, unique, and criminally underrated albums to date.
After the 2005 release of Fever, there was much speculation to what direction the band’s sophomore album would head. Would they continue with their streak of dark and quirky emo music? Or would they cater to the more pop-based sound that lead to their newfound success? Panic! At the Disco chose none of these options, and chose to create a psychedelic, instrument driven, and all around enchanting selection of 15 tracks. Critics immediately drew correlations to The Beatles and the later work of The Beach Boys -and it’s not hard to see why. With heavy reverb placed on the guitars, experimental studio effects, and nostalgic lyrics, Pretty. Odd. seems like it could fit right into the music being released in the 1960s.
Members of Panic! have admitted to this album being heavily influenced by the utilization of hallucinatory drugs, which can most definitely be seen within the lyrics of this album overall. Lead singer Brendon Urie sings in the slow, acoustic guitar driven “Northern Downpour,”:
“tripping eyes and flooded lungs / northern downpour sends its love.”
The theme of Pretty. Odd. can be summed up through this one quote. Common themes of love and life are sung about in an incredibly poetic way throughout every song on this album, mostly thanks to ex-Panic! member Ryan Ross. Ross’s words and occasional vocal features on this album are an enormous part of what makes Pretty. Odd. so special, as this album was the last he would ever contribute to.
Musically, Pretty. Odd. heavily fluctuates with its influences. Songs like “The Piano Knows Something I Don’t Know” and “Nine in the Afternoon” feature boisterous horn sections, while “When The Day Met The Night” and “Within Without You” seem to be taken from The Beatles’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. A majority of the tracks feature swirling, elegant strings, which create a very regal and symphonic atmosphere.
Though many know and love Panic! At The Disco for classic favorites such as “This is Gospel” and “I Write Sins Not Tragedies,” sometimes diving deeper than surface level discography pays off in a major way. Pretty. Odd. may not be Panic!’s most popular album, but there’s something undeniably special about it- and it certainly doesn’t deserve to be a lost treasure found only within the depths of the band’s history.
By: Yasmin Ettobi