A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out Panic! At the Disco, Sept. 27, 2005 (Decaydance/Fueled by Ramen Records)
Long before drug addictions, rehab and a tumultuous split, Panic! At the Disco was formed by four awkward 9th graders who covered Blink-182.
Their debut album features unheard of theatrics, quick style changes and Bredon Urie’s distinctive vocals all mixed together in the equivalent of a Chuck Palahnuik novel.
The first single, “The Only Difference Between Martyrdom and Suicide is Press Coverage,” drags the listener in with Urie’s invitation to tap your toes to the beat, emphasized by Spencer Smith’s heavy beat. Using an electronic dance-party mix instead of a guitar solo, the song does not immediately relate to its title, but is catchy all the same.
“Lying is the Most Fun a Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off” is a blatant party song gone wrong, with Urie’s seductive vocals in the beginning crooning about sex and the regret that follows. “Is it still me that makes you sweat? / Am I who you think about in bed? […] Oh now I do recall, we were just getting to the part / Where the shock sets in, and the stomach acid finds a new way to make you get sick.” Twisting electronic beats with piano riffs keep listeners moving without really questioning the lyrics (though when you sit and listen, they are decidedly darker than expected).
After the instrumental intermission, the style of the album varies slightly. Introducing the change with a PSA-style voice over, adding to the theatrics of the album.
The biggest single from the second half of the album, “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” deals with marriage and adultery in an exaggerated, freakshow-fashion (see the music video). Beginning with an instantly recognizable guitar part over Urie and Ryan Ross’s traded vocals setting the scene for the catastrophe that awaits the characters – “What a beautiful wedding! What a beautiful wedding!“ says a bridesmaid to a waiter, / "And, yes, but what a shame, what a shame the poor groom’s bride is a whore."”
Continuing the freakshow, the closer “Build God, Then We’ll Talk” sings of a soap opera slice of life in presumably L.A. It is a culmination of all the stories told on the album, coming together in one motel, all ending in tragedy. A rain-stick is used (instead of just sampling) on top of the usual instruments, as well as a beautiful violin outro over Urie’s repeated play on Mary Poppin’s “Favorite Things” – “Raindrops on roses and the girls in white dresses / And sleeping with the roaches and they taking best guesses /At the shade of the sheets and before all the stains / And a few more of your least favorite things.”
Listen to: “But It’s Better if You Do”