When Panic! At The Disco released their debut album A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out in 2005 they immediately rose to the highest ranks of emo. AFYSCO is an essential marker in the 00s emo revival. It was impossibly ambitious, sultry and controversial. Swathes of teenagers sweated over its verbose lyrics and I’m almost certain Chuck Palahniuk’s sales met an unprecedented spike.
The arrival of Pretty. Odd. was schismatic amongst Panic! fans. The bands stylistic turn and decision to drop that iconic exclamation mark was met with a lambasting by the emo community. It is still considered by many to be their worst, most forgettable effort. It is my favourite album of theirs and I personally think it deserves defending.
One can understand why this album was met with such bitterness. Panic! were so deeply entrenched in the world of emo and pop-punk. So when they came out with this psychedelic-folky body of work, fans felt ostracised.
The main criticism you’ll hear in regards to this album is that “it sounds like a The Beatles rip off”. Which is… completely true. The entire album sounds like the product of someone who listened to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band for the first time. And they were so excited about the whole thing that they stayed up til’ the wee hours of the morning writing an album paying tribute to that album. Pretty. Odd. is a love letter to the sun-drenched age of The Beatles and The Beach Boys.
Whilst it occasionally reeks of wanky psychobabble, it always redeems itself with its unrelenting warmth and naivety. It is so joyous, so uplifting, so silly, often completely nonsensical, but it is so, so perfect.
Take That Green Gentleman (Things Have Changed) for example. I personally think this is one of, if not the best Panic! At The Disco song. It is the very essence of positivity, growth and acceptance. Which I think encapsulates everything that this album attempts to achieve. Where AFYSCO toyed with themes of cynicism and moral corruption, Pretty. Odd. delves into the more beautiful aspects of being alive. Things have changed for me, and that’s okay / I feel the same, I’m on my way.
How could we ignore the heart-rending Northern Downpour a song that inspired many angsty teenagers to ink themselves with I know the world’s a broken bone / but melt your headaches, call it home. It is perhaps the simplest song the band have ever released, driven by unembellished guitar chords and twinkling piano that deftly cradle Ryan Ross’ musings.
Also, a quick shoutout to those weird folky numbers Folkin’ Around and I Have Friends In Holy Spaces. I’m not quite sure what you were trying to achieve, but I loved it anyway.
The music of Pretty. Odd. has since been virtually banished from Panic! At The Disco’s live sets — save for the hit single Nine In The Afternoon. But it has left a lasting impact on the hearts of so many. From the elaborate floral sets, to the twee suits and the shaggy mod cuts. It served as a stepping stone into bands like The Beach Boys and The Kinks, for young, impressionable teenagers. It’s iconic in its special way and I will love it forever.
Panic! At The Disco are will be hitting Australian shores next month in celebration of their ‘Pray For The Wicked’ tour. Full tour dates below.
Panic! At The Disco 2018 Australian Tour
Pre-sale begins 12pm AEST Tuesday, 19th June
Tickets on sale 10am local time Friday, 22nd June
Saturday, 6th October
Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney (All Ages)
Tuesday, 9th October
AEC Theatre, Adelaide (All Ages)
Thursday, 11th October
Riverstage, Brisbane (All Ages)
Saturday, 13th October
Hisense Arena, Melbourne (All Ages)