It’s not like in the digital age they even have to anymore.
Maybe it’s a sign that an album is weak, or that whatever record label execs are still kicking around will only listen to the first two or three tracks anyway.
Vices and Virtues unfortunately falls into this category in a way. After “Ready to Go” at track 6, the album switches gears. It’s not a band change, but it would seem to me that the band tried to produce what they felt their label wanted, and arranged those three-six songs at the front. Meanwhile, the second half transitions into what they actually wanted to write, and may be an indication of the future of Panic! at the Disco, rejoined by their domineering punctuation mark, !. What a prick (!).
At first listen, Vices and Virtues is somewhat of a letdown. I’m well aware that there won’t ever be a Fever You Can’t Sweat Out II (a record I’m tentatively titling A Fever You ~Still~ Can’t Sweat Out complete with the tildes; and the third in the trilogy, A Fever You Won’t Ever Sweat Out, So Just Stop Trying, Mom). Even that era in music is already very much dead thanks to the dissolution of bands like Fall Out Boy, The Academy Is…, Acceptance and others.
But it’s a letdown because PATD post-Ryan Ross and Jon Walker means the band is very literally half of what it used to be. The creative influence of Ryan Ross is sorely missed on Vices and Virtues. It was evident on Pretty. Odd., the band’s only other release as a four piece, in the guitar work throughout the album. I once read an anecdote was subject to interpretation (and may or may not be factual) that basically said the band was sent home during the early portion of recording AFYCSO because they, quote, “didn’t know how to play their instruments,” with the exception of Ross, the lead guitarist. Whether or not that’s true is neither here nor there, but if it is true, then he played a large part in song creation and direction, which would explain the steps away from that sound in the succeeding records.
It would just seem to me that Panic was at its best with Ross and Walker included. When they split to join The Young Veins and released Take a Vacation!, you’ll excuse me if I thought it was a joke. I’ve made my opinion known about The Beatles before, but I’ll restate it here because of how firmly I believe it: without question, they are the most overrated band of all time. And The Young Veins was a feeble attempt at recreating whatever beach party they thought The Beatles would have thrown.
If this is a please for Ross and Walker to rejoin Panic, so be it.
It’s not even that Vices and Virtues is all bad. It’s not. There’s some good stuff on here: namely, the opening three tracks.
It would just appear to me that the record is a reflection of the transient state of Panic, and a band still trying to regroup during change after a period of huge success.
All that aside, I love the aesthetics of the band, a lot. Always have. The overall, Vaudeville-inspired masquerade/burlesque/speakeasy is a brand and presentation that Panic does well. As a stage show, it’s perfect. But maybe that is all a distraction. The smoke and mirrors can’t hide the fact that some of these tracks need a little reworking or reimagining.
Standout tracks: “The Ballad of Mona Lisa” and “Let’s Kill Tonight” and “Hurricane”
Weakest track: “Always” – ugh.
RIYL: Vaudeville. The Fueled by Ramen roster circa like 5 years ago. Fall Out Boy, Acceptance.