Large shows with contortionists and circus antics. Adding an exclamation point in between the band's name and then removing it two years later. Oh, and the guy-liner. Yeah, it's all pretty odd indeed; but what about Panic at the Disco's sophomore album, the satirically titled (you guessed it) Pretty. Odd.? Highly anticipated, the album revolves around the band's love for The Beatles and their interpretation of the mop-tops' musical theatrics. The result is a bastardized track list brimming with upbeat, sometimes simplified, endearing noise and classical ties that touch the head and heart.
No one really knew what to expect from the same band that penned "I Write Sins Not Tragedies," but it certainly was not Pretty. Odd. This time around, the band went after sounds to wrap around their own hearts. Under the production of Rob Mathes, a man who's worked with everyone from Yo Yo Ma to Ghostface Killah, the band sought to pay homage to Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band as well as the influence The Beatles have put into the world. Speaking in terms of endearment, the album takes getting used to.
Fans of the first album were in love with Panic's fits of playful gusto, but occasionally condemning outlook and the originality that oozed from lead singer Brendan Urie's throaty vocals. This time around, the sounds rely on more soothing instruments, mainly ukuleles, violins and random sound effects (crows and girls voices). The entire album moves in slow motion compared to their debut, A Fever You Can't Sweat Out, aided by a background orchestra and frequently reminding the listener of a distorted, fantastical world. Sometimes they exemplify a soft version of The Hives, sometimes The Hush Sound, but manage to remain Panic throughout. The entire project is a gamble, and after the third or fourth listen, the Fever fans will come to appreciate it for the band's ability to experiment (just listen to "She Had The World").
In the tracks "Northern Downpour" and "From The Mountain in the Middle," The Beatles' sound is dominant, and in the tracks "The Piano Knows Something I Do" and "Nine In the Afternoon," there seems to be something beneath the music that Panic wishes to convey. Unfortunately, their genius runs short in both tracks just before the music turns overtly somber. One must consider what the album would have sounded like had they went with their original producer, Nightmare Before Christmas composer Danny Elfman (think Beetlejuice meets Banana Splits).
The music is not alternative, not baroque or psychedelic pop, or anything tangible, but all of these blended together. Supple, sweet and somber, with tenderly manufactured lyrics and fluttering enthusiasm, these are the things of Panic's Pretty. Odd.