I was not a fan of PATD (it’s a long band name y’all) when they came out. I probably heard I Write Sins not Tragedies before the deep dive but it didn’t come to me. What I did hear a lot of was Mercenary, the song done for Batman Arkham city. I liked it until it goes into the Victor Hugo speech. Then I lose interest.
What got me to finally listen was watching one of those jazz/alt genre cover channels on YouTube. I heard I Write Sins not Tragedies, and liked. So I decided to listen to their first album.
Oh did I not know what would happen to me…
A Fever you Can’t Sweat Out
A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out is a breath of fresh air here in 2020. It sounds like nothing on the radio now, and feels more layered and… wait… yup!
Their first album is a neigh perfect emo/punk-pop rock album. It really feels like the perfect dark and perverted carnival/regal sound. All of the songs are memorable, have a catchy in a strangely related ways (high tier Fall Out Boy song naming skills), and have a good production for them. It is hard not to just explain why every song is really good. So I will do a sentence for each cause I got six albums to get through.
Introduction/intermission – they’re the neigh in the neigh perfect album. The songs are fine and give context to the songs. They say their part of some weird radio station. After the first couple listens they were skipped
The Only Difference Between Martyrdom and Suicide Is Press Coverage: It sounds so distinct from the rest of the pop-punk of the time with its mix of classic instruments, acoustic guitar, and techno, and manages to keep up a high energy.
London Beckoned Songs About Money Written by Machines: It evolves the sound of the previous song with some experimentation (signs of the next album) to enhance the rebellious lyrics and devil may care attitude.
Nails for Breakfast, Tacks for Snacks: This is one of the weaker songs. It’s got some fun rhymes with things like pill and bull, but it is the most forgettable.
Camisado: This is a really fascinating take on suicide and what attempting suicide is like, all masqueraded in poppy song.
Time to Dance: The last weak song. It’s beat and energy is on point, and the idea of someone taking all the grief to I guess dance is cool, but it’s too not dense, maybe obscure.
Lying Is the Most Fun a Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off: One of their most under appreciated songs ever; a solid beat, hook, and just killer lyrical flow and turns of phrase.
But It’s Better if You Do: Energetic and yet vindictive nature of what kind of relationship this song was built around is fascinating and suck a jam to listen to.
I Write Sins not Tragedies: Of course it’s good, but I would say is not the best on the album because it is not nearly as fleshed out as other songs both before and after it.
I Constantly Thank God for Esteban: It just is clever; the story of hypocrisy and contempt of it brought forth through multiple allegories ties it to near perfections.
There’s a Good Reason These Tables Are Numbered Honey, You Just Haven’t Thought of It Yet: The just full double meaning, big band work, and slick productions make this the best song.
Build God, Then We’ll Talk: The breath visual storytelling of every story told is able to condense so much into such tight verses it’s honestly impressive, and the instrumentals are great!
The trivia about these songs shows a deep and specific meaning for all of them, meaning liking them and not looking into any of that does not lessen my enjoyment, but sure makes my analysis lacking. It’s still a fantastic album.
It’s rare to get an album titled so descriptively on point. Pretty Odd would best be described as a horizontal move for PATD. It is not better or worse overall, just a shift, a big shift. A Fever you Can’t Sweat Out was Baroque Rock this is 60s and 70s psychedelic and folk rock.
For those that don’t get what I mean. They basically go from Fall Out Boy to late stage Beatles, Credence Clearwater Revival, Iron Butterfly, and The Avett Brothers.
The album’s first song is a good joke (I assume, or good flip of expectations). We’re So Starving is great and making you feel safe in the same haunted carnival only to diverge quickly with Nine in the Afternoon.
This change grows and evolves in new ways to make things that are lyrically like the previous album. Those come out in their allusions, flow, and lyrical symbolism. Songs like Green Gentlemen, I Have Friends in Holy Spaces, When the Day Met the Night, and Folkin Around are all classic songs. Folkin Around in particular feels like it’s the perfect base for a real folk rock band (of for Brandon Urie to revisit) to expand on into a more fuller song. It is a short, jaunty tune about messing around with a girl. It works, but the need for more of it is just so palpable.
The places the album fails is in the big song everyone likes, Northern Downpour. It has good lyrics, imagery, just generally all the good stuff the bad has had. What kills it is how dull, lifeless, and placid the beat is. There is next to no real musical complexity in the arrangement and composition. That’s it’s death nail for me, and initially turned me off the album upon first listens.
Vice & Virtue
PATD lost two of their members, halving their group. The change is apparent almost immediately. The best that the album could be described is, as a second or third tier pop-punk album. It is not their worst. It just is more bland than anything else.
The blandest comes in different flavors (look how clever that was, ha!). It comes in how mundane and common the lyrics are. It lacks much of the visualization and extra meaning. They’re normal pop-punk lyrics. The blandness all comes in how standard the arrangement and composition of the songs are. None of them hold the complex mix and production of multiple different instruments. The songs start and end pretty standardly.
I don’t fully blame the band. This is what happens when you lose your main writer, lead singer, guitarist, and percussion. This causes a gap they try to fill, but it doesn’t all work.
Some of the songs are not all bland Hot Topic Music. Ballad of Mon Lisa, Memories, and Sarah’s Smile all have sparks of what was. Their sound and lyrics do not fully reach the good. But are enjoyable enough. And Hurricane is fun nonsense.
Losing band members is always a hit to the band itself, but it is recoverable.
Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die!
PATD would not recover. In fact they lost more band members. That too would put all sorts of strains on Brandon Urie. I may have sympathy for him, but I do not sympathize with the album.
The album is near unlistenable garbage. Starting with the first song: This is Gospel is just an assault on the ears. It is just a wall of sound and beats, and an uninteresting lyrics. It is about the breaking up of the band, sad sure, but doesn’t make for good music. In an attempt to be balanced, not all of the songs are mindless electronica dance , and pop music. They do attempt to copy the soundscapes of Daft Punk, Temposhark (am I the only person who remembers him), and Imogen Heap. None of that works, but they try.
There are only two songs I would call close to good. Miss Jackson and Girls/Girls/Boys are the only one with any sort of real idea and complexity. Miss Jackson has a good sample to carry it while G/G/B (which is about a threesome Brandon Urie had. Gross) has some turns of phrase that are just stuck in my head and has a beat that is simple but carries it.
This album is a full shift and course change. It’s a first attempt and it shows because…
Death of a Bachelor
Everything attempted in the previous album exceeds spectacularly in this one. It may not be their best album, but it sure is my favorite.
It mixes the electronic-pop sound of the previous album with more of the brass band/big band mix that makes every song something special. It does suffer from too much of the same flavor.
Crazy = Genius, Emperor’s new Clothes, Golden Days, and House of Memories all have some really good hooks, sounds, and fun lyrics. None of them reach the quality of the first albums, but they feel so realized and energetic that it makes the time listening to the album just flow as you jam out.
Pray for the Wicked
The most recent album is not the worst. It more just feels like Urie (now just the whole babd) over thought what made the previous album good. He tries to push and evolve the big band/techno-pop of the previous album into the next level. That next level just is a competition in high energy sameness.
I criticized the previous album for being samey, but the difference is that as the whole album sounded the same, each song has tweaks to the formula. This does that some, just not to the degree it needed to.
Songs like [I’m Not Gonna Swear A] Silver Lining, Overpass, and One of the Drunks (this album has lots of alcoholic references and talk about getting drunk. I guess that is how you pray for the wicked) all feel suitably upbeat and like an extension of the precious album in sound and lyrics.
Meanwhile the singles off this album (I’m only doing because I know what they are and have heard them outside of my Spotify) High Hopes and Hey Look Ma, I made It are a mixed bag. High Hopes is the most generic thing Urie has made for this band. It tries the big band mix but is just lacking and dull. Hey Look Ma (yada yada yada) is better and has a good hook. It’s drops are just kind of lame, and the idea of only caring about how your mom feels about fame just is not as good as previous themes.
Wrap Up: With some extra long lyric of quote added on like Dancing on a Tightrope of Weird and is not Brian Wilson
If a band has lost so many members, changed genre, and released a scattering of quality albums how would they be considered consistent? Simple answer, it’s all in the vibe the band produces. From: The Only Difference Between Martyrdom and Suicide Is Press Coverage to Dying in LA, Brandon Urie (and the rest of what band they had) gave off a vibe of righteous cleverness they did not earn. It bothers me when literal teenagers make giant pop hits about how the breakup they had was the worst thing ever when they’ve barely dated. This is a level where it feels like PATD has figured everything out and want to express how they totally understand the world through these elaborate lyrics, mixes, and compositions, and they almost hit their mark. It does not feel like teenager writing (I mean some of the back half does but let’s not get distracted at the end), but 20 year olds. They know and have experiences that have formed them, but haven’t fully coalesced into a functional person. They have adapted as people (I am making PATD a singular person even as that doesn’t fully make sense) to the changing world and life events Those adaptions however are for survival over passion (that’s the long answer I decided to give you anyway, even after reading this epic).
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