Album Review: Panic! At The Disco – ‘Pray For The Wicked’

On Pray For The Wicked, Brendon Urie (the sole remaining member of Panic! At The Disco) takes you to church and then to your local bar, however his debauched pop sermons probably won’t be converting the non-believers anytime soon.

Following up 2016’s Grammy nominated Death Of A Bachelor was never going to be an easy task for Urie, and in order to keep the good times rolling he has turned to three main themes on Pray For The Wicked: God, booze (plenty of it) and his Mum.

The result of this hodgepodge triad of contradictory facets is an underwhelming, unnecessarily theatrical, pop album that’s equal parts Robbie Williams to equal parts High School Musical.

‘One Of The Drunks’ admirably stumbles around, while album closer ‘Dying In LA’ does its best to show off Urie’s vocal prowess and piano chops, but both ultimately fall face down into the gutter of generic pop balladry.

‘Dancing’s Not A Crime’ is not only the worst song on the record, but potentially the worst song of Panic’s entire oeuvre. Dancing may not be a crime but that song sure is.

It’s not all bad, however. On lead single ‘Say Amen (Saturday Night)’, Urie is at his blaspheming best; idly dropping sacrilegious oxymorons such as “I swear to God I ain’t ever gonna repent”.

While ‘Hey Look Ma, I Made It’ is easily the standout track on the album, with a big catchy chorus and endearing yet brutally honest lyricism; “I’m a hooker selling songs and my pimp’s a record label”.

Other highlights include the Broadway blitz of ‘Roaring 20’s’ that cascades into a full-on Aladdin style blowout. Forget the comparisons to Robbie Williams, Urie is channelling Robin Williams’ big blue genie.

Like the album itself though, many of the songs are inconsisten. They either drag on repetitively or spiral unnecessarily out of control. Take the booze soaked ‘Old Fashioned’ for example, which starts as a perfectly digestible pop number which is then spiked by one of the most cringeworthy middle eights ever put to wax.

Pray For The Wicked is ultimately a lukewarm, overproduced collection of songs that are torn between the bottle and the bible. Be careful, it’s underwhelming nature could have you reaching for both.

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