Pretty. Odd. Sneak Preview

This track-by-track sneak preview of Panic at the Disco’s album (released March 25th) is supposedly done by NME.com according to PATDonline.com.

Assuming this is the real deal, Pretty. Odd. will be an amazing album. I love all the song titles too.

We’ve had a listen to ‘Pretty. Odd’ at Abbey Road Studios in London, where the band recorded the strings.

It’s due out in March, but here’s our sneak preview.

NB: These song titles are subject to change.

1) ‘We’re So Starving’
A knowingly tongue-in-cheek introduction to the album – “We were busy writing songs for you… You don’t have to worry/We’re still the same!” sings frontman Brendon Urie –but, what with the Queen-esque multi-tracked vocals and bombastic backing track, one that sets the tone for what’s to come all the same…

2) ‘9 In The Afternoon’
…Which is, essentially, ‘Sgt. Pepper’ had The Beatles taken a Magical Mystery Tour to the Bellagio Casino on Vegas’ strip. This first single features clanking bells, fairground horns, lush orchestration, joyous handclaps and a vaguely lysergic lyric (”Nine in the afternoon / Your eyes are the size of the moon”). Moping emo rock this ain’t.

3) ‘She’s A Handsome Woman’
The Beatles’ references take a detour into ‘Revolver’ territory as Ryan Ross embellishes a tight-but-disarmingly off-kilter rhythm with George Harrison-esque guitar stabs and squeals.

4) ‘Do You Know What I’m Seeing’
Idyllic birdsong, lilting, folky guitar lines and a nursery rhyme melody herald yet another stylistic curveball, as Panic come over all early-Pink Floyd and embrace eccentric English psych-pop. Yet another killer chorus is ushered in by swooning strings, rich vocal harmonies and a faintly nonsensical lyric: “I never gave a damn about the weather/But it never gave a damn about me”. You can’t but admire Panic’s ambition.

5) ‘The Green Gentleman’
God knows what the budget was for ‘Pretty. Odd’, but if it cost anything less than a million dollars to record, then the band have done well, because it certainly sounds it. This one sounds HUGE, as though Disney had decided to re-record ‘High School Musical’ with The Polyphonic Spree. Only infinitely better than that sounds.

6) ‘I Have Friends In Holy Spaces’
Another shift of gears, as Panic adopt the personae of an old Mississippi river boat band, complete with banjo, clarinet and authentic scratchy period sound. The lyric, however, appears to be bang up to date, Urie seemingly struggling with the affects of fame: “You remind me of a few of my famous friends/Well, that all depends on what you qualify as ‘friends’”.

7) ‘Northern Downpour’
Noticeably more traditional in structure that what’s gone before, ‘Northern Downpour’ borrows heavily from classic American AOR bands - think The Feeling, but with the plastic veneer replaced with warmth and soul. Urie’s surprisingly soulful vocals carry the tune to its gradual yet joyous crescendo.

8) ‘When The Day Met The Night’
Given the all-encompassing nature of this album, it was surely only a matter of time before Panic dabbled in eastern-tinged melodies. What is surprising, however, is the way in which they subvert your expectation - again - by shoe-horning in another show-stopping showtune-esque chorus. Brilliant.

9) ‘Pas De Cheval’
Arguably the most conventional song on the album, ‘Pas De Cheval’ starts with a cheeky nod to Neil Diamond’s’ ‘I’m A Believer’ before building to a chorus carved from ’70s American FM rock radio. Will surely rule the airwaves if released as a summer single in the States.

10) ‘The Piano Knows Something I Don’t’
And then we’re back on familiar ground as Panic plunge headlong into Beatles’ territory for a bombastic ‘…Mr Kite’ style collage of bells, brass and woodwind instruments, before slamming on the brakes for a psychedelic pastoral breakdown, complete with woodland sounds and lush vocal harmonies. Even on an album positively preoccupied with variations in pace and arrangements, this song stands out.

11) ‘Behind The Sea’
And so the Panic TARDIS touches down in Haight Ashbury at the height of the Summer Of Love for a late-night love-in (and, indeed, Love-in – the spirit of Arthur Lee is much in evidence here). Panic’s musical ADD soon kicks in, though, and with a ‘Whooaah!’ we’re swept off into a Danny Elfman-inspired fantasy land for the song’s second half.

12) ‘Folken’ Around’
Surely they’re taking the piss now… A fiddle-inspired back porch country reel? Amazingly, it doesn’t sound shit, either.

13) ‘She Had The World’
Just when you thought there wasn’t’ a genre of music left for Panic to appropriate, they wheel out a harpsichord for a spot of stately chamber music (albeit more Muse than Mozart). Once again, the lyric is quite deftly juxtaposed with the music, Brendan singing a variation on the classic ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ get out clause: “I don’t love you/I’m just passing the time/You could love me/If I learned how to lie/But who could love me?/I’m out of my mind”.

14) ‘From A Mountain In The Middle Of The Cabins’
You can’t help but wonder what Panic’s established fan base will make of their heroes’ musical excursions. As evocative as this deceptively dark whirlwind of Dickensian strings and olde worlde ambience is, it’s been some time since we last heard a guitar…

15) ‘Mad As Rabbits’
Phew – here’s one, now. Admittedly it’s playing a tight-as-you-like ’70s style funk motif, but there you go. The song eventually settles into another slice of classic Americana, albeit one peppered with a lyric about a “poor son of a chimney sweep” whose “arms were the branches of Christmas trees”. There’s just time for some more horn stabs, and another belter of a chorus, and then that’s it.

If that all sounds like an astonishingly ambitious but potentially confusing rag bag of moods, genres and styles, then that’s probably because it is. ‘Pretty. Odd’ will undoubtedly surprise and piss off Panic fans and haters alike, but it’ll take plenty more playing to determine whether it’s actually any good…

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