When Panic! At The Disco released their album a week early, I debated listening, but gave in after a very fast and one-sided argument with myself.
My first mistake was watching the grainy, artfully ugly video loops of the Vegas strip that accompanied the tracks. In an uncomfortable way, the footage matched the music, and so the uncomfortably poor footage became forever attached to the songs for me, and thus my ability to listen to them was tainted.
My second mistake was assuming the entirety of TWTLTRTD would aesthetically mesh with the previously released singles. Panic! has always pulled bait and switch with their musical styles, but I was so confused as to be off-put by the songs. I found myself wondering if this could be the Panic! album that quelled my love of the band.
But I've listened a second time.
And a third time.
And there's a maturity here that was missing from Vices and Virtues. The album still misses the lyrical and musical soul that existed in the first two albums. But Ryan Ross has moved on so I'll do the same.
The first singles off the album, "Miss Jackson" and "This Is Gospel," are still my easy favorites, their more alternative sound and rougher vocals are standouts amongst the more synth-laden songs that populate the rest of the record.
"Girls/Girls/Boys" is a beautiful anthem of bisexuality and denial, and is the band's favorite track off the album. The vulnerability of the song as portrayed in the video brings a new dimension to the album as a whole, paralleled in the final track "The End Of All Things," which is lyrically and musically tender in a way the rest of the album is not.
Nicotine was the highlight of the album for me, it's a track that manages to seamlessly combine the raw beauty of Brendon's unaltered voice with the clean synths that Panic! has come to favor.
The album is yet another departure in a series of departures that makes up Panic!'s discography, and it deserves a consideration and contemplation not always afforded to bands that make the transition to pop music.