No band perfects their line-up first go; it takes many adolescent arguments, diva strops and snide passive-aggressive lyrics before the ‘real’ band gets together. But as the music industry gets more and more cut-throat, bands are falling apart and splicing themselves back together in the hopes of resembling something familiar out of the remains- blink-182, Paramore and Panic! At The Disco are some of the past year’s best examples.
We all accepted long ago that Brendon Urie’s ego has taken over the Panic! name, and that’s fine. We do love a frontman with a bit of self-confidence, after all. But since dropping every other member of the band, disappearing for a few years and now launching himself into a completely new, synth-filled, sugar-pop genre, how much longer can Urie really dine out on the Panic! At The Disco name?
‘Don’t Threaten Me With a Good Time’ is the latest single from Panic!, and you can’t argue that it’s a banger of a tune. It has all the delightfully surreal quirks, nature-defying vocal harmonies and killer choruses that we always have (and always will) love about Panic! At The Disco. But when you compare it to the rich, full-bodied juiciness of their older work, the band name pales in comparison to its’ old self.
They went from emo overlords with their debut A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out in 2005 to psychedelic weirdos with 2008’s follow-up Pretty. Odd., but the attention they gained from both led to their name in lights. It was at this moment, though, that things began to head south, as much-loved guitarist (and halfway decent songwriter, let’s not forget) Ryan Ross and bassist Jon Walker left the band, probably as freaked out as the rest of us by Urie’s new Swinging Sixties obsession. After their next album, 2011’s Vices & Virtues, was practically forgotten, Panic! eventually began to claw things back with the damnably catchy tunes of Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die!– despite another departure, this time from drummer Spencer Smith.
With new tracks from upcoming album Death of a Bachelor, the state of the band has fallen into such disrepair that we’re not even sure we can call it a band anymore. Brendon Urie has always been the face of Panic!, but since annihilating every other member from the band’s history and leaving only himself to carry the torch- which he seems more than happy to do- things have probably gone a little too far.
Let’s take Death of a Bachelor’s title track, for example – it’s pretty much a Frank Sinatra tribute so bad that we’re starting to question whether Panic! have been signed to Michael Bublé’s record label on the side, with not even a trace of their trademark eccentric pop-punk. This only leads to massive disappointment for fans who still believe in the Panic! At The Disco name.
When you take out the majority of members to continue as a soloist who steers drastically away from their most recognisable and iconic sound, it begs the question: what is truly left of the Panic! At The Disco legacy?
Just Brendon Urie, apparently.