By ditching the exclamatory blotch, it seems that Panic at the Disco have returned to the musical scene with The Beatles and the Beach Boys firmly couched in their perception, legendary producer Rob Mathes in the booth, and strings and mixing done at Abbey Road.
The results are captivating, as this young band has produced an intoxicating and often confounding blend of music and sound. Call it Panic at the Disco’s version of Sgt. Pepper’s if you must, but Pretty. Odd. is an acutely innovative piece of music.
One of the most notable aspects of the record is how damn jolly the whole thing is. The sundrenched production swirls around lead singer Brenden Urie’s over-the-top vocals, and the instrumentations are fascinating in their intricacy. Key changes and multifarious percussion peppers most songs, keeping things appealing throughout.
Taking Pretty. Odd. seriously would be a huge mistake. As the band states in the introductory number, "We're so sorry we've been gone/We were busy writing songs for you!" Sure, it’s kinda Muppet Show-esque, but it has a sense of wonderment and euphoria that’s hard to resist.
And that’s just it. This emo band or former emo band could have quite easily played the MCR card and gone all Black Parade on our asses. The idea that they didn’t is instantly flattering and it helps that their attention to crafting beautiful melodies seems to have risen from the ashes of pretentiousness.
Oh sure, there’s posturing and posing all over Pretty. Odd. That’s the point.
The truly great single “Nine In the Afternoon” is courageous enough to feature trumpets and clapping, a definite departure from the rule. And the riotously pompous guitar to start “She’s a Handsome Woman” is tremendous fun, but it’s the chorus on it that will send you for a loop.
Panic at the Disco may lose more than just their exclamation point on this one, but Pretty. Odd. is a welcome change from the Death & Suicide norm so commonly mined by most guyliner-adorned emo jackasses. It’s a blissful, swift, and moving record with gobs of coated sounds, noisy horns, and daft choruses that seem perfect for skipping merrily through the park on a summer afternoon.