LP Review; Panic! At the Disco!: “Pray For the Wicked”

“(F**k a) Silver Lining” starts with a musical motive that starts practically inaudible. The motive that comes to light follows a sine wave action when it comes to musical content, which is well-received as it grows in dynamics. This remains the main idea until an automated voice sounds to give a brief monologue for the song (and maybe even the album) before the instrumentals come to a stop (in a similar way to when one stops a record player). Following this grand pause, the vocalist comes to the party with the title of the track as the instrumental ensemble slams into the content that will make up the chorus of the work. Once the chorus simmers, the band goes right into the first verse where the instrumentals drop to allow the vocals to reign over top. The instrumentation that is present is used to keep that steady groove pushing forward that was set at the very beginning. Before moving back to the chorus of the track, the band includes huge hits in unison to solidify that everyone is coming back together before giving the audience another run of the memorable chorus. The make of the chorus provides a symmetrical relationship between the vocals and the instrumentation, which gives the listeners a grand amount of contrast when moving back and forth between the chorus and the verses throughout the piece. Moving to the second verse, it is heard that the band utilizes a lot of the same techniques, which isn’t a bad thing; however, this time around, the band bends sound waves a bit more to give the audience divergent moments of sound. This is a cool technique to use because the audience will always be hearing a different underlined semi-tone in those moments, which will help this track to stand out. Following the second verse, the band spins into a tiny tag line before including a little instrumental blurb to get back to the catchy chorus that will remain in the minds of the audience. This was a smart first selection for this album, for the lyrical content is minimal, but it is highly relatable as it is memorable; thus, mixed that with the fresh instrumental sound: this will be a track listeners will remember from the first go-round.

“Say Amen (Saturday Night)” starts with a fluctuating mixture of semi-tones with a low automated voice sounding the words “hold up” before the instrumental ensemble becomes more prominent. When the instrumentalist join the fun, they provide the audience with hits on and off the beats of each musical phrase, which makes for an ornate groove that lays the foundation of the work. When this is going on, a higher pitched voice is sounding a vocal moment that fits the contour of the off-beat groove perfectly. This remains with slight alterations here and there for a few seconds before the lead vocalist finally enters. When he does so, his vocal line is presented in a linear light, sitting perfectly in the middle of his range. This allows the vocals to glide overtop the complex nature of the instrumental foundation. Right before crashing into the chorus of the work, all of the instrumentation drops out to allow the vocalist to sing “oh, its Saturday night” in total isolation before everyone slams into the enhanced chorus together. The chorus of the work utilizes all of the instrumentation heard thus far on the track; additionally, other instrumental tone colors are heard, which gives the chorus a more vibrant colored sound. Following this chorus, the band falls into a spin off chorus that sounds like a transition that would be used in a modern pop selection. This spins into the second verse of the track, which is very close to the first, just shorter in length. The band gives the audience another rendition of the memorable chorus of the work following the second verse. As the band begins to look towards the end of the piece, the instrumentation morphs its sound while keeping the same motive going. This shift in sound, allows the vocalist to sing with a more sultry tone for the third verse as some instrumental nuances enhance his vocal contour. This lighter verse will take the audience back to the chorus, which will bring the work to the end after the vocalist adds some additional vocal variations in between.

“Hey Look Ma, I Made It” starts with the fast evolution of electronics, which transitions into a small musical motive that works in a step-wise motion. This remains the focal point of the track as the instrumental section slides in to provide the backbone of the piece. When they enter, the audience now has a secure sense of where the steady pulse of the work is located while they are following the simple, electronic musical motive. After this remains for a few, the lead vocalist enters. Once he enters, it is heard that he is initially singing in the lower part of his register, which meshes well with the instrumentation around it, for all of the tone colors are fitting together nicely. As one moves through the first verse, it is heard that the groove of the work begins to elevate slightly as the track quickly becomes one that everyone can just rock to, which is the result of the emphasis of the second and fourth beats of each musical line. As the band begins to approach the chorus, the instrumental texture becomes less dense as the vocalist moves higher in his vocal range. This quick shift startles the audience in the best way and foreshadows an explosive chorus. Spoiler alert: that’s exactly what the band gives the audience. They are able to do so by providing new tone colors through brass instrumentals with their traditional instrumental set-up. This allowed the vocalist to remain in the upper part of his range while the instrumentation was going to town. The second verse came and went similar to the first, and then  back to the hard-hitting chorus. As the band was making their way to the end of the track, the instrumental section took the same content from the chorus and switched it to a half time groove. This would give the audience the same vocal and instrumental material in a new way, giving the overly memorable substance a new sound, which would drive the audience to the very end.

 “High Hopes” starts with a progressive instrumental feature from the very first second of the track. This instrumental feature brings the brass instrumentation back to light as they unite with the traditional instrumentation to set the groove of the work in such a dynamic manner. The cool nature of this feature lies in the percussion part, for the percussion section is providing the accents to each musical moment leading up to the start of the first verse. The instrumentation remained consistent as the vocalist enters in for the first time. When he enters, he keeps his content in the upper end of the spectrum while still giving the audience a dynamic vocal contour. The first vocal moment that is heard appears to be the chorus of the work, which eventually resolves downward to the first verse. The overall sound of the instrumental section decreases when they land on the verse of the work, which allows the vocalist to utilize lower parts of his range; however, the texture of the instrumental line stays the same, which retains the motive from the very beginning of the selection. Before falling back to the chorus, the band gives the audience a pre-chorus line that sounds as if it pulls influence from earlier works by the band, for it has that smooth, lux nature that their previous releases thrived off of. This moved to the heightened chorus of the work, which drove home single hits among the ensemble, which were heard in unison across all fronts. When the band lands on the second verse of the work, it is heard that the vocal line remains the same, but the texture drops down significantly. Instead of a thick texture, the audience hears a small fanfare like response after moments in the vocal line, which eventually joins the vocalist in unison before pulling towards the chorus of the work. When the chorus comes back to light, the instrumentation drops out completely, and the audience hears the beginning of the chorus in an a capella style from a huge vocal choir, with the vocalist pulling the lead. The instrumentation layers themselves back in with a growing semi-tone slamming into the resolution to make the final product all the more satisfying. Once the full orchestration was back in, the band rocked the chorus of the selection one final time.

“Roaring 20s” starts with a pumping percussion motive that puts a strong emphasis on the first beat of every musical phrase as a high-pitched tone is heard squealing a musical motive in the upper spectrum of sounds heard on this album. The motive that is heard through the higher-pitched sound is soon doubled in a lower octave, which affirms this small motive to be the foundation of the work. This motive trails off quickly as the vocalist enters in almost abruptly with a lower-toned vocal melody. The instrumentation throughout this first verse remains low in dynamics, but they bring back the off-beat type set-up, which juxtaposes the set pulse that the percussionist sets and retains throughout the work. This mixture meshes well, for they come together when the band lands on the pre-chorus materials. The materials of the pre-chorus bring the audience to a more somber light as the vocalist spans his vocal range with ease. As he does so, he pushes and pulls the time of the work, giving the audience a strong cadence before pausing briefly. After this brief pause, the band crashes into the heightened chorus of the work. The chorus brings back the juxtaposition of the instrumental parts as well as the motive that is heard at the beginning of the work. In this moment, each member of the band is being heard at the same dynamic level, which makes for a larger than life sound. As the band moves to the second verse of the selection, it is heard that the ground level of the verse has increased slightly to allow the vocalist to sit in the middle part of his voice. This also gives the instrumentals the opportunity to play more into their lines: allowing the off-beats to punch a tad more. Before no time, the band approaches and lands on the chorus of the track in a similar way as they did before. Moving through the chorus, everything lines up the same exact way, which would cause no complaints. Following the chorus, the band moves to a third verse that utilizes a gradual step-wise up and down motion between both the instrumentation and vocals. From here, the band starts the chorus again at an extremely slow tempo. They hype this up by vocalizing each word slower and slower before evolving, gradually, back to the original tempo of the work. This is a foreseen favorite of the album, for it pulls from previous tracks that Panic! At the Disco! is known for while also giving the listeners something completely new, innovative, and straight up fantastic.

 “Dancing’s Not a Crime” starts with what sounds as if someone was putting a pin on a record player to get it to start. Immediately following that subtle sound, a groove was created and enforced through the percussion section, who kept the rocking vibe heard throughout most tracks on this album. As this was going on, the audience hears chordal substance from the other members of the instrumental section as a higher-pitched voice sounded a vocal line that followed a step up and step down shape. When the vocalist enters, the instrumentation also increased in volume, which gives the audience a high sense of contrast from the beginning of the work. The instrumentation provides heavy, in unison, hits to add accents to the vocal line as the groove of the work remains the same moving forward. Right before the band hits the chorus, the beginning motive is reintroduced before becoming the basis of the main vocal line throughout the chorus. The chorus holds a symmetrical front because the front end punches the audience with materials, then it falls back to allow the instrumentalists to extrapolate on their instrumental parts. This takes the audience to the second verse of the work, which mimics the first with more embellishments by the instrumentalists. From here, the band is taken back to the chorus of the work, which is the same as before. Following the second chorus, the band falls to another verse that gives the audience a softer moment for the track as the band utilizes some spicy chords to add a little flavor in their more somber light. The band will ride that verse out for a little while. From there, they transition back to the chorus of the work for a final time. This time around the band gives their audience a final instrumental interlude to wrap up their musical idea.

 “One of the Drunks” starts with a grand juxtaposition with the sounding of one lower note followed by a small motive that is held in the upper register. This up and down remains for a small amount of time before the vocalist enters in with the materials for the first verse of the track. He starts his vocal line in the lower part of his range as the instrumentation remains scarce. This allows the audience to connect with the vocal line and a small groove that’ll begin to build as the selection unfolds. Before the band spins into the chorus of the work, the vocalist gets a moment to shine in complete isolation before the full ensemble lands on the chorus. Unlike the other tracks on the album, this chorus has a more relaxed vibe to it. This is caused by having a more prominent vocal line as the instrumentals remain in the lower spectrum before providing various in unison hits before the second verse starts. The second verse has a tad more edge to it as the instrumentals and the vocals become more secure in their middle range. This leads seamlessly back to the chorus of the work, which is the same as the first round. After the chorus, the band turns to a moment when the music being heard gives the allusion of spinning, which works hand in hand with the lyrics being vocalized. This gives the audience a drunken feeling, which would only enhance the title of the track. Eventually, the band moves back to the memorable chorus, where the audience can vibe their way to the very end. Well, the end of the track musically, the CD recording includes an outro of voices talking.

 “The Overpass” starts with a huge down beat with all of the band’s instrumentation and then some. This initial beat has voices filling out the bottom and brass players screeching at the very top. After this beat, they all drop out to provide a dramatic, but minimal, drumroll that leads to another similar hit. The second hit is followed by an elaborate percussion break that leads all the instrumentalists into a major instrumental feature that rides a more progressive groove than the pervious selections. An automated voice is heard before the first verse of the work commences. When the first verse gets rolling, the instrumental texture thins out to the traditional format while retaining the same motive. This allows the vocalist to span his vocal spectrum while giving the audience a dynamic vocal line while being reinforced with back up harmonies here and there. The instrumental section also provides small hits among the ensemble to bring out certain moments in the vocal line, which adds a cool symmetrical off-balance in some sections. As the band approaches the chorus, the instrumentals drop out to allow the band to slam into another larger than life chorus. The instrumentals then begin to dig into their own parts to give the audience a dynamic chorus that gives all members of the party the chance to move the length of their full spectrum. The second verse of the work keeps the same build as the first. This time around the instrumental part is more prominent, which helps drive the more progressive groove of the work while keeping the selection leaning forward. However, before going straight to the chorus, the band pulls back to a very slow and almost trippy pre-chorus verse that takes the audience on a wave-like motion before pulling back to the chorus of the work.

 “King of the Clouds” starts with vocals from the very first second of the track. The vocals that are voiced pull from the a capella style once more. In this moment, the audience is receiving a melody that is thick in terms of its harmony while the entire choir structure is moving with ease through the vocal line. Half way through this initial moment, there is an electronic tone that descends downward to lead the listener’s ear to the percussion section, who sets the official pulse of the work through the traditional groove used on this album. Eventually the choir affect subsides, and the lead vocalist retakes the limelight. From here, the instrumentation remains minimal as it was at the beginning before the band lands on the chorus of the work. When the chorus is set, all of the instrumentation joins the mix with a progressive backtrack that fits the contour of the groove and the vocal line perfectly. The main standout of the chorus is the in unison hits that help lead the audience to the spin off vocals that trail into towering electronics that will take the audience up into the upper spectrum of sound waves. The second verse of the track comes out of nowhere since it transitioned right from the chorus. This time around, the instrumentalists are present, while the vocalist gives a similar vocal line. Before moving to the chorus of the piece, the band messes with the addition of the adding and subtracting of texture to add simple juxtapositions before the chorus is the focal point once more. The chorus follows the same format as before, which leads the audience to a spin off line that trails off to nothing to wrap things up.

 “Old Fashioned” starts with a grove from the very first downbeat of the work. The groove that is heard is based off one loud hit followed by a few smaller hits. This groove is soon enhanced by the addition of a saxophone timbre, who begins to add more musical nuances here and there while working within the new groove. Soon after the saxophone had some fun with the musical line, the lead vocalist joined the mix to give the listeners the content of the first verse of the selection. The vocal line moves through a nice range of tones, which works well with the instrumental line that remains consistent with the altering of texture in some places to back up the depth of the vocal line. The band quickly transitions into the chorus of the work by the vocalist just moving up to the upper part of his range to give the audience a vocal line that simply soars. In this moment, the groove of the work becomes more symmetrical compared to the more off-kilter vibe that was utilized at the beginning. This gives the audience a new harmonic series to hold on to, while the vocalist proclaims this gentle lyrical line. Following the chorus, the band spins right back to the previous verse make, which gives a high amount of contrast for the work as a whole. Like the first time around, the band seamlessly transitions back to the grand chorus of the selection. Following the second run of the chorus, the band falls to give their audience a verse that is held in the lower range of the spectrum. However, this verse utilizes large spikes in the range as it moves up and down throughout the line to give a high amount of dramatics before falling back to the chorus of the work.

 “Dying in LA” starts with a gentle melodic line provided by a piano timbre. This melody gives the audience a gentle rise and fall with each phrase. This remains by its loathsome twice before a pause is present, so that the lead vocalist can follow. When the vocalist enters, the piano line is embellished as the vocalist takes the audience through a dynamic melody that spans his full range. Throughout the verse, it is heard that the piano line is used to shape the lyrical line with some moments of accent to enhance certain points of the phrase. Once the band reaches the chorus of the track, the dynamics increase significantly, so that it feels as if the vocalist is proclaiming his lyrics to the world, rather than just stating them. This is backed up by the technique of the pianist, for it can be heard that the pianist is really lying into each note that is being played to fill out the harmonic structure of each section. Following the chorus, a small instrumental feature is heard before the second verse commences. Alongside the piano for the second verse, the band includes small electronics to add new tone colors to brighten the overall color of the selection, as the band moves towards the chorus of the work. The chorus of the work follows the same shape with the enhanced instrumentation to provide more subdivided moments to add some intricacy to spice things up. Following the second run of the chorus, the band includes an instrumental interlude that rides a large rise and fall that will take the audience to what sounds like a scene in nature to end the album. This is a smart final selection for the album because it brings the audience to a full gentle state after all of the excitement.

Final Thoughts: Overall, I would give this album a 4.5 out of 5 stars. I am giving this album a such a score for a variety of reasons. The first reason I landed on this score is because Panic! At the Disco!, throughout this album, continuously pushed the bar when crossing of musical genres was involved; which, is very impressive when listening to how well each track meshed together by itself and as a whole. The second reason that I decided on this score is because since this album has a strong sensibility when it comes to musical genres, it will be more appealing to bigger audiences; thus, this was a no-brainer when deriving a score. Furthermore, if you are just looking for a fresh and innovative album that you can listen to with anyone, this is the one! Nicely done!

*”Pray For The Wicked” was released on June 22, 2018 through Fueled by Ramen.

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