Panic! At The Disco – ‘Pray For The Wicked’ – album review

If you think back to 2004 – in particular, my age group as we were teenagers then – we were introduced to a burst of new talent from the record label Fueled by Ramen. 

This label has actually been around since 1996, but 2004 was when they found the winning formula. With bands like Gym Class Heroes, Cute Is What We Aim For and The Academy Is… , there was something for everyone (whether you classed yourself in a certain ‘group’ associated with fashion, or people assumed you were part of one by what you wore). 

Fourteen years on, and much has changed, though there are three bands that have managed to survive life’s lessons: Paramore, Fall Out Boy and Panic! at the Disco. The latter coming from Las Vegas, Nevada, same as The Killers. They are still standing out within the label and this past year, released new music resonating with the awkwardness that comes with growing up.

Last week, Brendon Urie (the sole remaining original member since the band was founded) released the sixth studio album ‘Pray for the Wicked’. It’s a raw concoction of stories about dealing with addiction, drifting away from people, gaining new ones and discovering your true self in between all of that. 

It’s honest about simply accepting who you are, light and shadow, and how wonderful life can come together when you do. 

To be honest, when you have an album titled “A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out” (debut album, 2005) , with song titles like ‘Build God, Then We’ll Talk’ at the age of  seventeen, you’ve proven yourself to have a certain level of introspection; that is going to bring a hefty set of challenges for the self, and a lot of envy along the way.

Brendon can truly say that he’s come through the other side, with all his flaws and is gracing us with a window into that journey 0n this album. 

Also letting others out there who may be struggling, know that it’s important to not give up because when you’re about to, that’s when things radically change for the better. 

I really like how he displays this in “Roaring 20s”. A hip double entendre, with the conventional sounds associated with music in the 1920s, while simultaneously singing about being a bright young thing, and winging it in real time. Yes, it’s an incredibly difficult time in terms of growth, but a lot of fun in those times too. 

“King of the Clouds” is quite possibly my favourite (very hard to pick one from this album)! It’s full of ethereal harmonies, about achieving astral ascension through your dreams, and getting in touch with your higher self. The message is clear: If there are no limits in your sleep, why should you set one for yourself in the physical realm? Keep searching, keep aiming for those dreams. 

“The Overpass” has got a smooth and dramatic jazz sound. Full of speed, and the beat keeps you on your toes. Bit like the meaning of the song: being in love with someone despite the fact that the surrounding circumstances between you both are challenging…and perhaps a bit dangerous or scary. 

“All my life Been hustlin / And tonight is my appraisal / Cause I’m a hooker sellin’ songs / And my pimp’s a record label

(‘Hey Look Ma, I Made It’ – new video)

This world is full of demons / Stocks & bonds & bible traders / So I do the deed / Get up and leave;  A climber and a sadist”(‘Hey Look Ma, I Made It’ – new video)

The penultimate track “Old Fashioned” is about reminiscing about old coping mechanisms, struggling to manage with emotions that caused an unbalance in the sense of self, but managing to find a way to survive and push through, and even make some good memories.

All in all, this album is saying don’t undermine your experiences, don’t under-appreciate how far you’ve come, nor think that what you want to achieve in this life is quixotic, in any way, shape or form. Don’t give up! 

In the words of Brendon himself: ‘Had to have high, high hopes for a living. Shooting for the stars when I couldn’t make a killing. Didn’t have a dime, but I always had a vision. Always had high, high hopes.’

Is it time for Reading/Leeds festival 2018 yet?! Can’t come soon enough I think!

‘Pray For The Wicked’

  1. (Fuck A) Silver Lining (Explicit)
  2. Say Amen (Saturday Night)
  3. Hey Look Ma, I Made It
  4. High Hopes
  5. Roaring 20’s
  6. Dancing’s Not A Crime
  7. One of the Drunks
  8. The Overpass
  9. King of the Clouds
  10. Old Fashioned
  11. Dying in LA

Available everywhere!

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