New Panic! Album Disappoints

After years of musical silence, group releases Viva Las Vengeance to mixed reviews.

Grae Stockhausen, Features Section Editor

After four years of going on a musical hiatus, Panic! at the Disco is back with a new album, and it is not as good as anticipated. It lacks in all categories, from the lyrics, to the vocals, all the way to the musical backing. The idea behind it had so much potential and was almost similar to his previous album, Pray For The Wicked, which was a beautifully crafted album. In an Instagram post that introduced the album release, Urie wrote:


 Welcome to Viva Las Vengeance. This is the tale about growing up in Las Vegas. It’s about love, fame, burnout and everything that happens in between.


Urie is fond of writing about past trials and tribulations throughout his life, his childhood, and his growing up in the spotlight. This album is similar to the others in the sense of meaning behind the lyrics but seems to clash with the rest of his themes. One area that Urie excels in is being musically diverse, and this album is a very good example of this. Urie’s albums have covered a variety of aesthetics in his past six albums and all of them have been a credit to his success. Unfortunately, this album’s aesthetic is a bit confusing. It nods back to ‘70s rock and baroque pop, with sparkling guitar, heavy drums, and some synth and orchestra instruments to reach that almost Queen-esque sound that Urie goes for. 

Viva Las Vengeance shows off 12 underwhelming songs and the best song out of all of them has to be the title song. The album starts off with the energized title track, named after the album. It has clear ties to the main theme of childhood and stardom in Las Vegas and the confusion with where to go next. The accompaniment is loud and bright, with guitar and drums banging in the background. It has a kind of “Hey Look Ma, I Made It” feel behind it. “HLM, IMI” is an anthem of Urie’s upbringing in the spotlight and his life as a rockstar. A lot of the songs in this album sound a lot like Pray For The Wicked songs or have the same ideas that he is just reiterating. The song that follows “Middle of a Breakup,” which itself sounds like a high school breakup track, “Don’t Let The Light Go Out” seems to deal with seeing a loved one, most likely a significant other, fighting for their life. Many of the lyrics in this song hint at some sort of hospital, talking about “red roses sitting silently beside the bed” and about “a lady comes and tells me that I got to leave.” Urie proclaims in his lyrics he doesn’t want his lover’s light to go out and for them to leave this earth, a sad ballad of love and pleading. Though this is a sad song, the accompaniment seems to be inappropriate, as he throws some rock elements into it. Normally, ballads that Panic! has are accompanied by piano and some orchestra instruments, but this is more of a rock ballad, which makes it less serious than the lyrics portray it to be.

After an interestingly written ballad, “Local God” is sung to be a high school star anthem, as Panic! At The Disco was founded when the three previous members and Urie were in high school. He sings about the local gods he had learned about in Vegas, people who had a large following in town but could never hit it big. “It’s even better than the Thing You’re Not” appears to imply that remaining a local god is better than being a star. The next few tracks on the album all have a similar sound: lots of trying-to-be rock with guitar and drums, as well as past-era references. The song after is another nostalgia song, referencing bands that were popular in the time period that Urie seems to be focusing this album on. His lyrics, “We are electric angels, We are the six-string queens, We are the new Dead Kennedys,” in addition to verse one are sung in the musical swing style of “The Boys Are Back in Town” by Thin Lizzy. The next song is another tribute to the era that Urie is harkening back to in a majority of the songs in this album. The title emphasizes this, called “God Killed Rock And Roll,” which is another homage to Freddie Mercury. The lyrics in this song talk about the special relationship between idols and their fans and how their music becomes a consolation in trying times. 

“Say It Louder” is an interesting song, one that you just don’t know who or what he is talking about, though it could be another nostalgic song, talking about his teenage stardom. Verse one supports this claim when one looks at the lyrics. 

“Everybody hates you now, But don’t you let it break you down, Breakin’ out of your small town, Show them what you’re all about,” Urie sings.

 The next song seems to be another romance song, but his words don’t have much substance or meaning behind them. 

“Red tail lights in the back of her head, Such a cherry leather looker, Drive her till I’m dead,” Urie says.

They seem to hint at a woman or even a car with the context of the lyrics, talking about tail lights and driving her until he’s dead.

Urie goes back to the theme here, talking about a previous ex he had named Maggie. In “Something About Maggie,” he sings about a girl he used to date, and the lyrics suggest that she was being abused by her previous boyfriend. 

“Maggie, the deck is stacked,” Urie writes,  “you gotta hit your boyfriend back, You gotta hit him back.” 

This song has the same musical backing as P!ATD’s first album, Pretty. Odd. It’s kind of dreamy and folky but still has that ’70s-era tune. The wistful tune in the background is contradictory to the lyrics, making this more of a desirable song to hear, unlike the majority of the album. The next song holds true to the album aesthetic, strong with the ’70s sound, and a lot of orchestra instruments in the background. “All By Yourself” is an empowerment number that also references another song in the album

“Three minutes, thirty seconds of a rock and roll record, Is all you need to know” is a direct reference to track seven, “Say It Louder.” The song is exactly three minutes and thirty seconds long and is sort of the “rock and roll record” that Urie is describing. Both songs are similar in messages as well. The outro song is also very underwhelming, with an ending where he sings about growing older but never giving up on his dreams.

“Do it all to death now before we die,” Urie sings multitudes of times to emphasize the meaning of never giving up, not until death.

To be honest, it was quite difficult to get through the first half of the album and nearly impossible to get through the second half. Besides the three enjoyable songs that can be listened to a few times before getting tired of those, the rest of the songs are just painful to listen to. It seems like Urie has gone rogue, his album is insubstantial. He’s missing the kick and zing he would bring into the songs that would hype the listener up to want to go back to feel the euphoria that his songs brought. Compared to the rest of his albums, this one is even worse than, in my opinion, Too Weird To Live, and Too Rare To Die. TWTL, TRTD had some good songs like “Miss Jackson” and “This Is Gospel” but the rest are songs that fans who follow P!ATD more closely or have been around for a bit know. These recent songs sound like something a high school rockstar wannabe would make. As someone who has been a P!ATD fan for around five or six years and knows a lot about Urie and the discography, this album was a punch in the gut. After the PFTW era, the next album was looking exciting and promising, and then the four-year hiatus occurred, followed by Urie getting himself canceled for multiple accounts of bigotry as well as allegations of sexual assault and harassment at concerts and meet and greets during this hiatus. This album is just a chaotic put-together by Urie to cover up his past mistakes with some sort of comeback that has clearly flopped. Looking through Genius Lyrics, many users have commented saying how bad the album was and how disappointed they are, and they could not have said it better. One user commented, “ABSOLUTE BANGER on mute,” and I have never heard something so honest. After this album, I do not have “High Hopes” for the rest of Urie’s career, nor the future of Panic! At the Disco.