Breaking Free

A few years ago, emo bands took over the music scene. Their whiney, depressing lyrics about their “difficult” lives disgust musicians and music lovers everywhere, and with good reason. It’s no secret that most emo bands that have made it big did so without the struggle that other hardworking rock and roll bands pushed through to gain their following. Fall Out Boy, who started out with a heavier sound, have traded in any credibility for radio-friendly tunes and a huge fan base, which is overwhelmingly full of teenage girls.

Therefore, it was perfectly understandable that many rolled their eyes when Panic at the Disco (formerly known as Panic! at the Disco), being carried under the wing of Pete Wentz on his Decaydance record label, appeared on the iPods of emo kids everywhere. Lead singer Brandon Urie’s voice could have easily been mistaken for Fall Out Boy’s lead singer and guitarist, Patrick Stump, and the witty, mile-long song titles were not unlike those found on the back of a Fall Out Boy disc. These barely legal Fall Out Boy clones seemed as though they were bound to fizzle out after one album.

Surprisingly, the boys have grown up and scrapped the lyrics that spoke of cabarets and whores, and are channeling classic bands such as the Beatles, the Beach Boys and the Smiths instead on their latest album, Pretty. Odd. What exactly is so surprising about this? The album boasts a fresh pop sound that actually works.

The album’s first single, “Nine in the Afternoon,” is comparative to the Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper,” and other tracks such as “She Had the World” and “The Piano Knows Something I Don’t Know” seem to have been inspired by the Beatles as well. Other standouts include “That Green Gentleman,” “I Have Friends in Holy Spaces” and “Do You Know What I’m Seeing?” The only song the album could do without is the appropriately titled folk song, “Folkin’ Around,” in
which the band seems out of its element.

While Fall Out Boy is responsible for much of their immediate success, it seems as though Panic at the Disco finally have creative control over their career, and are doing a fine job of steering themselves in the right direction. Pretty. Odd. succeeds in not being a sophomore slump and makes up for the maturity that the band’s previous album lacked.