Crack the liner notes to the fifth album by these emo-pop kings and you’ll find a bold proclamation: “Panic! At The Disco Is: Brendon Urie.” Ten years ago, the Las Vegas band were the toast of their peers, but as the genre’s buzz has lost its heat, band members like Spencer Smith, Ryan Ross, and Jon Walker have moved on. Rather than release music under his solo name, Panic!’s frontman is keeping his band’s flame alive—and he’s indulging in the sounds and artists he loves most: Queen and Frank Sinatra.
Unfortunately, he doesn’t ever capture the glittery theatrics of, say, Freddie Mercury or the impossible cool of Old Blue Eyes. Stomping tracks like “Don’t Threaten Me With A Good Time” and lyrics like “Champagne, cocaine, gasoline, and most things in between” don’t really jive with half-hearted saxophones and staccato jazz flares, especially when they’re all employed at the same time, like on “Crazy=Genius,” which shows Urie at odds with a lover who finds him boring. (His retort: “You can set yourself on fire.”)
Still, longtime Panic! fans will find shining moments. “L.A. Devotee” soars with a rocking sing-along chorus ideal for Urie’s charismatic, operatic voice, and the collection’s major single, “Victorious,” co-written with Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo, is a major pop-rock party tune begging for club play.