Where To Start With... Panic! At the Disco
Anyone who has been following the exploits of Las Vegas band Panic! At the Disco since their formation in 2004 will also no doubt be aware that the group's line-up is almost as difficult to pin down as their sound. Over the course of 14 years and five studio albums the band - which started out as a four-piece comprising frontman Brendon Urie, guitarist Ryan Ross, bassist Brent Wilson and drummer Spencer Smith – has undergone numerous personnel changes and by the time of their most recent studio album, 2016's Death of a Bachelor, the line-up consisted of just Urie and bassist / multi-instrumentalist Dallon Weekes.
Then in December last year, shortly after the release of their live album All My Friends We're Glorious, Weekes too announced his departure from the band, leaving Urie as the sole member. For some, that might have been enough to call it a day or continue as a solo artist, but Urie is determined to plough on under the Panic! At the Disco moniker and in March this year the band announced that a sixth studio album was on the way.
Pray For the Wicked arrives in stores today and is produced by Grammy-nominated producer Jake Sinclair, who worked with Urie on the band's last album and has also produced records for the likes of Sia, 5 Seconds of Summer and Weezer.
Fans of the band will no doubt already be aware of their shape-shifting tendencies and the new album continues their progression from emo/punk-pop to something altogether more polished, as evidenced by the new songs already unveiled in the run-up to the album's release. 'High Hopes' sets the scene nicely with pop-brass keys and huge chorus, while 'Say Amen (Saturday Night)' is as unabashed a pop anthem as any you're likely to hear.
They still retain some of their earlier influences too, as the layered vocals on 'King of the Clouds' demonstrate, but with Death of a Bachelor having been their biggest-selling album since debut A Fever You Can't Sweat Out, it's no surprise to see Urie continuing down the path of big, shiny pop songs. If you've enjoyed the band's more recent output then you'll probably find plenty here to fall in love with too.
You can find the video for 'Say Amen (Saturday Night)' below, beneath that we’ve picked out five key tracks from the band's career so far...
'I Write Sins Not Tragedies'
Featured on debut album A Fever You Can't Sweat Out, 'I Write Sins Not Tragedies' was the band's breakout hit and helped send their debut album rocketing up the charts, thanks in no small part by the song's award-winning video.
'Nine in the Afternoon'
Second album Pretty. Odd. wasn't the most straightforward or harmonious period for the band, with the less-than-amicable departure of bassist Brent Wilson followed by the decision to scrap an album that was, according to Ross, “three quarters done” in favour of starting over with a record that took a very different path to their debut. The evident Beatles influences manifested in an album which appealed to Ross and Walker more than it did to Smith and Urie, eventually leading to another split, but it did produce a couple of hits including this slice of 60s-influenced pop.
'The Ballad of Mona Lisa'
The opening salvo on the band's third LP Vices & Virtues was actually written prior to the recording of Pretty. Odd. Although it didn't fit in with the other tracks on their sophomore LP – and in fact has more in common with the songs on their debut – Urie and Smith, by now working as a duo, resurrected the tune for their third album. A spooky, vibraphone-propelled verse gives way to a towering chorus that stands up as one the album's best moments.
'This is Gospel'
Taken from the band's fourth album Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die!, 'This is Gospel' is perhaps still one of Panic! At the Disco's most anthemic tunes, hinting at the more polished pop sound the band would eventually transition to on Death of a Bachelor.
'Death of a Bachelor'
Our final pick is the title track on the band's most recent album Death of a Bachelor, which is as good an example as any of the band's journey from emo alt-rockers to pure, unabashed pop. Urie does his best Frank Sinatra impression here, crooning over a backing track that's a million miles from the frenetic, guitar-propelled tunes on their debut.
Pray for the Wicked is available in hmv stores now - you can also find it here in our online store.