In Panic at the Disco’s first single off their new album, Pretty. Odd., there is a line that asks, “Do you know what I mean?” No, Panic. Nobody knows what you mean.
In 2006 a group of 17-year-olds fresh out of high school formed Panic at The Disco and released their first album, A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out. A panic is exactly what ensued. Two million copies of the album were sold, the radio stations were flooded with requests, and Panic’s video won the Video of the Year Award at the MTV Video Music awards. Not bad for some 17-year-olds.
Fast forward to a year later and you never even hear anyone mention PATD, and each of those two million CDs has found its way to the dumpster or some closet, never to see the light of day again. And when was the last time you heard a song from their first CD on the radio?
People discovered something: It’s bad music. The album is 14 jumbled, incoherent tracks that follow no song structure whatsoever. The album left as quickly as it came in, and that’s a pretty good description of a flash in the pan. As for the lyrics, it was as if they pored over the Oxford English Dictionary in search of the longest, coolest-sounding words to put in their songs, even if they didn’t fit.
And somewhere along the way they decided that the longer the name of the song, the better: “There’s a Good Reason These Tables Are Numbered Honey, You Just Haven’t Thought Of It Yet.” The thing that they forgot to do with those long-winded lyrics is tell a story — let alone convey something that people can understand. In an interview, guitarist Ryan Ross said of his debut album, “I can’t knock that album too much. For a bunch of 17-year-old kids we did the best we could with what we knew about music.”
To prepare for their follow up album, Pretty. Odd., PATD immersed themselves in Beatles music. The band even mixed their album at the legendary Abbey Road Studios in London, which has served as a hit factory for The Beatles, Radiohead, U2 and many other greats.
The result is Pretty. Odd., which is a pretty accurate title. It’s pretty odd that a band would do everything in its power to emulate one of the greatest bands to ever play instead of making their own sound and carving out their own identity. Pretty. Odd. is a very nice sounding album, but anyone can copy the greats. Their first album was terrible, but at least it was original.
They might as well call it “Panic’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” since each song on the new album is reminiscent of the Beatles in some way. The members of PATD have each grown dark, mop-top hairdos and wear vintage clothing, and they’ve become keen on manufacturing madcap music videos in which they playfully run throughout the town — in direct correlation to the Beatles’ 1965 film “Help!”
Maybe PATD wants to be mistaken for the Beatles. Maybe they couldn’t decide as a band what direction and identity they wanted, so they chose a proven identity to mimic. Hopefully in the future they will be able to make decent sounding music on their own.
Who knows, maybe a couple years from now PATD will immerse themselves in Led Zeppelin and we’ll get a chance to hear “Houses of the Holy Part II.”