Panic at the Disco
Pretty. Odd. (Decaydance/Fueled by Ramen)
ESSENTIAL "Northern Downpour"
A few years ago, Brendan Urie sang about "indifference" and "disinterest in what the critics say." The song was "London Beckoned Songs About Money Written by Machines," the band was Panic at the Disco! (the exclamation point has since been retired), and the album was "A Fever You Can't Sweat Out," which went on to sell a gazillion copies, despite the opinion of the academy. (As it turned out, Urie's indifference was reciprocated.) From the beginning, Panic has thrived on pomposity, from 10-foot-long song titles to total disdain for practical means of punctuation. The news on "Pretty. Odd." is its less-straightforward means of delivery. If "Fever" was straight emo, this follow-up is a motley collection of ballads (the surprisingly lovely "Northern Downpour") and sturdy, melodic rock ("Nine in the Afternoon"). Between them, Urie tries out vaudeville ("I Have Friends in Holy Spaces") and, more successfully, '60s pop ("Pas de Cheval"). In a recent interview, songwriter Ryan Ross admitted he had belatedly discovered the Beatles and the Who, circa "My Generation." What he didn't say was "Pretty" borrows liberally from the things that made those bands superficially interesting - the practiced eccentricity, the constant innovation - without paying tribute to the cultural and political sensibilities that made them great. [Matthew Shaer]
Panic at the Disco plays the