PANIC! AT THE DISCO burst onto the scene in 2005 with A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out, carried by that pop/rock sound and unmistakable vocals from frontman Brendon Urie. “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” went double platinum and introduced kids like me to the “Pause Censor” on the radio, leaving me confused and intrigued at the same time. Panic! has been steady ever since, putting out lots of music, heavy bangers, and even received a Grammy nomination in 2017 for Best Rock Album for Death of a Bachelor. While Pray for the Wicked debuted to generally positive critical reception, I am not one to just take someone else’s word for it. Eleven songs and 6 hours later (I listened to it at least 9 times), I bring you this unbiased, impartial, and undoubtedly accurate representation of Panic! at the Disco’s sixth studio album.
In 2017, Brendon Urie played the lead in Kinky Boots on Broadway, and the theatrical elements that have since been part of Panic!’s sound are on full display on Pray for the Wicked. The energy of the album comes at you full force from the jump. With a cold open straight into heavy brass, percussion and a generously vulgar hook, “(F*** A) Silver Lining” gets your blood pumping for more.
I’m not going to give a play-by-play of every song, even if I want to. The first two singles from the album, “Say Amen (Saturday Night)” and “High Hopes” are the clear front-runners with their incredibly catchy hooks and powerful vocals. Every song transitions into the next with a flawless ease.
“Hey Look Ma, I Made It” brings the chorus we’ve been waiting for, highlighted by saxophones and lots of hip-hop influenced percussion. It’s the unofficial “anthem” of the album. Urie exclaims, “Everything’s coming up aces / If it’s a dream, don’t wake me.” It’s the positive-vibe banger that makes you want to smash that rewind. The entire album exudes that energy and never quits. And when the album ends, the repeat button almost hits itself. I cannot pick a favorite song. The whole album, front to back, makes you want to jump out of your seat and start a flash mob. Every one of us is the “King of the Clouds.” Next time you’re throwing back a few summer beverages by the pool, or just chilling with good pals, grab the aux chord, open up your Spotify (Premium is a must, you’re not that poor), search Panic!, click Pray for the Wicked, and enjoy the rest of your day with a smile on your face.
There can only be one, and this is it. Pray for the Wicked, Album of the Summer.