Vices & Virtues - Panic! at the Disco

2011 has proven to be a good year. As well as great books and memorable movies, the year has brought forth some great music... and it's only March! And while new music will always excite me, regardless of what it is, no new album has excited me as much as Panic! at the Disco's Vices & Virtues, which hit shelves on March 25. 

Panic! and I have had a roller coaster type relationship, starting with their first album, A Fever You Can't Sweat Out. The over the top theatrics, lackluster lyrics, and not-quite-techno, not-quite-pop sound was not to my liking. However, keyboardist and front-man Brendon Urie's vocals on "But It's Better If You Do" convinced me to stick around for the next album. 

Pretty. Odd. did not disappoint. Released on March 21, 2008 (happy birthday to me!) and completed and mixed at Abbey Road Studios (yes, that Abbey Road), Pretty. Odd. was the penultimate in collaborative efforts between Urie and songwriter Ryan Ross. Panic had become a completely different band, sacrificing their not-quite-pop, not-quite-techno sound for a more old-rock, Beatle-esque sound and trading in their lackluster lyrics for something more profound and poetic. It quickly became - and still is - one of my favorite albums of all time. 

Then, on July 6, 2009, with the promise of a third album in the works, the band split up due to Ross and other band member Jon Walker embarking on a musical excursion of their own. The split was amicable, but heartbreaking none the less. The third album would never see the light of day... or so was the mentality. But, on February 8th the tumblr community was alive with buzz about new Panic!, and it seemed to good to be true. Sure enough, however, the band - now composed of Urie and drummer Spencer Smith - released the music video to their new single, "The Ballad of Mona Lisa" and while the style was vastly different from that of Pretty. Odd. (and sounded more like a lost track to A Fever You Can't Sweat Out), it was promising. The question remained, however, as to whether or not Panic! at the Disco could survive without the brilliant lyrics of Ross... rumor was, with Ross gone, Urie was penning most of the songs.

The album was officially released on March 22, 2011 (A full three years after the release of Pretty. Odd.) and gave birth to another question: Why wasn't Urie penning the songs all along? There are more hardcore fans that will disagree, and I'm sure your opinion will have to do with what sort of sound you preferred from Panic!, but in my opinion, the album far exceeded my expectations. I adored Pretty. Odd., and I have no qualms about saying Vices & Virtues is better. Ross is a talented individual, and his work on Pretty. Odd. is unmatched, but Urie has more than proven himself on this album.

Unlike Pretty. Odd. - which sounded like a collection of songs by a great band - Vices & Virtues seems to tie together, each song a piece of a larger story (like Daft Punk's Discovery). They've gone back to the pop-like sound, but have established themselves in it, utilizing horns like they did on Pretty. Odd., as well as some magnificent string arrangements. The songs are stories within themselves, boasting some of the most beautiful and poetic lyrics I've come across in my 23 years. But the crown jewel of V&V's presentation is the same thing that made me stick around six years ago: Brendon Urie's vocals.

Urie has this strange ability to convey his every emotion with his voice. If a song is particularly close to his heart or is inspired by some painful memory, you hear that... to the point of actually feeling it. Coupled with the horn/string arrangements and poetic lyrics, Vices & Virtues serves to be a rather moving tale... a book without pages; a movie without pictures. It grabs your heart and invigorates your imagination.

The standard version of the album contains 10 tracks, and can be streamed here, but if you purchase one of many versions of the album (via their webstore, Hot Topic, or iTunes), you can get your hands on a number of the six bonus tracks available, each of which is fun and amazing, but nowhere near as amazing as Vices & Virtues is as a whole.

If you're a fan of Panic! at the Disco, or you're just looking for some new music to kick off your 2011 year, I strongly suggest looking into Vices & Virtues. Again, you can stream it here, or buy it here, here, or here. It is also available at Best Buy for a limited time for only 7.99$.

  1. The Ballad of Mona Lisa
  2. Let's Kill Tonight
  3. Hurricane
  4. Memories
  5. Trade Mistakes
  6. Ready To Go (Get Me Out Of My Mind)
  7. Always
  8. The Calendar
  9. Sarah Smiles
  10. Nearly Witches (Ever Since We Met)
  1. Bittersweet
  2. Kaleidoscope Eyes
  3. Oh Glory [demo]
  4. I Wanna Be Free
  5. Stall Me
  6. Turn Off the Lights

"But It's Better If You Do" Official Music Video

"The Ballad of Mona Lisa" Official Music Video

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