Popular pop-rock band Panic! At the Disco released their seventh studio album, Viva Las Vengeance, four years after their last album Pray for the Wicked. Their last album cultivated a rather wide audience with hit pop singles such as “High Hopes” and “Hey Look Ma, I Made It.” Though these hit singles garnered mainstream success, the album also received a lot of backlash due to the band switching up their music style, which did not please several fans.
Stepping back into their older pop-rock roots, the band is seeking vengeance, but for a band that has a hit song about how they write sins and not tragedies, they managed to overwhelmingly prove themselves wrong.
The newest album consists of 12 brand new tracks which were all recorded on a tape machine, providing a new level of authenticity for the band. Recording on a tape machine is an older technique, which is fitting for the album as they produce songs with a classic rock style in mind.
The album opens up with the title track, “Viva Las Vengeance,” which was the first single released off the album. It offers an overview of the album, revealing the common themes of how lead singer Brendon Urie grew up in Vegas and cultivated his rock-and-roll fame there.
As for inspirations, the album seems to have some inspiration from popular classic rock bands like The Beatles, Queen and many more. The formula seems suitable for creating a great redemption album by inserting prominent bass lines, clean progressions on the guitar, stomping drums, harmonizing operatic vocals, and subtle string crescendos. However, one notable factor that ruins the whole album is Urie’s overwhelmingly unbearable strained vocals.
While his strained, high-pitched vocals are part of his signature touch, he has several moments where he overuses it, making our ears uncomfortable while listening. Some of the songs would be magnificent if it weren’t for the constant high-pitched singing or perhaps if Urie had a more balanced high-to-low vocal performance like he does in A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out.
Urie’s vocal performance in “Sad Clown” is the most daring of all the tracks on the album. After having covered “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen for the Suicide Squad soundtrack back in 2016, Urie attempts to produce another iconic operatic vocal performance but fails short of doing so. His effort is remarkable though, one of his most venturesome performances to date.
The other single released was “Middle of a Breakup,” which features a few clever lyrics. One being, “Keep your disco, give me T.Rex,” cleverly referencing part of the band’s name while mentioning another band’s name, T.Rex, who were a classic glam rock band back in the 1970s. This lyric notes that the band is making its changes, wanting less of their poppy sound and more of their rock sound. T.Rex isn’t the only classic rock band or artist mentioned on the album, as Led Zeppelin and Buddy Holly are also inserted.
In the rebellion anthem, “Star Spangled Banner,” Urie offers a marching beat that reworks some of the lyrics of the U.S. national anthem, singing “In the land of the brave / Home of the freaks.” Though the lyrics may be clever and revolting, it doesn’t seem to fit today’s narrative, as it comes off quite cringy, like something they would’ve written back in 2013.
Other challenging song lyrics include one from the song “Something about Maggie,” where Urie mentions conflicting self-harm to himself. It’s definitely an eye-opening, uncomfortable lyric, especially coming from Urie. Lyrically, the album doesn’t seem to fascinate minds nor be exceedingly memorable other than the few “clever” ones.
After the previous album divided the fanbase with its more mainstream and quite annoying sound, this album manages to divide the fanbase even further, despite the band going back to creating songs that were more rock-oriented. Ultimately, Urie’s strenuous vocal performance was a turnoff for a lot of fans.
To add to the distaste of the band’s new sound, there is still a heavy dislike of Urie amongst the crowd due to his past troublesome behavior and some sexual allegations. With his heavy dislike amongst crowds and an album that doesn’t seem to hit right, it’s only sensible that more people will join the dislike of the pop-punk artist.
With noticeable detest in the band’s music and stature, the band’s popularity will continue to decline. The band was destined to redeem themselves soundwise, but they lack lyrics and vocals with sustainable instrumentation, making the album barely listenable. All in all, this album won’t give them anymore “High Hopes” nor will it give them the vengeance they were striving for.