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The Critics Corner: Albums
Vices & Virtues
Panic! At The Disco | Vices & Virtues
New solid album returns Vegas outfit to original sounds
Name: Vices & Virtues
Label: Decaydance/Fueled by Ramen
Release Date: March 29, 2011
Rating: out of 3.8 out of 5

Review written by: Justyna Zurek

After the dramatic drop in fans, the band split into two, leaving front man Brandon Urie and drummer Spencer Smith to continue the legacy of what is Panic! At The Disco, exclamation point included, their decision to return to their original “emo” sounds similar to their platinum selling record “A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out.”

The new record “Vices and Virtues” starts out with their first single “The Ballad of Mona Lisa,” it may actually remind you of why we all really enjoyed listening to P!ATD.  Starting out with a sprinkle of spooky keys and the impeccable abilities of the otherwise none featured skills of Smith. The addition of the guitar riffs excites the song, and gives it an energetic feel. “Kill Tonight,” is also similar to the very first record, the very creepy like sound effects made by the strings on this track, as well as the voice. It seems like the production was trying to cover up a lot of his vocals, it’s odd why, since the lyrics are very edgy, which makes Ryan Ross’ writing seem too complex and over-analyzed. The guys have taken a lot of risks on these tracks, as well as “Nearly Witches (Ever Since We Met…),” which ends the album. A slow medley of Mona Lisa finishes in full circle. These tracks seem to be closely related to what started P!ATD in the first place, from their debut record, a great combination of talent and ambition.

“Hurricane,” releases the frustration on the drastic change between the debut album and the sophomore album “Pretty. Odd.” The 70’s retro-inspired album was, as the lyrical line states “drop our anchors in a storm,” as to point out the drowning of the bands success.  Not to disapprove of Pretty.Odd., it was a good record, but it wasn’t what was happening in the 21st century, and so the drastic change back into the roots began.

“The Calendar,” (which touches on Ross and Walker’s split from the group and finds Urie reaching out saying “they say if you don’t lit it out/you’re gonna let it eat you away/I’d rather be a cannibal, baby/ Animals like me don’t talk anyway”) and “Memories” are the albums safest tracks, effects and production wise. Of course, I’m not complaining, I think that the simpler the tracks production and effects, gives for a more clear cut message, as in these two tracks.

If you weight the opportunity to choose between the classic album or the special edition, I suggest you go with the special edition. The special edition gives you three tracks that are the closest you could get to the debut album. “Bittersweet” is one of the three tracks that are considered “bonus,” this track explores how Urie felt about the split, but it didn’t fluster him in any way to be able to say whatever had to be said, “everything I do is bittersweet/you could tell me secrets that I’ll probably repeat/I’m not trying to hurt you/I just love to speak” not only are the lyrics phenomenal, but the end vocals, the falsetto, it’s just incredible.

Sure, Pretty. Odd., was a great blast to the past, but the fact is in the 21st century, we’d rather have fun, and that’s exactly what Vices and Virtues gives us, fun and energetic, as well as a recharged Urie, who seemed to have a lot of fun writing this record with Smith.

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