A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out, by Panic! At The Disco
Suggested by Rob Catton
Using punctuation in your band name is an honoured tradition. But, like all traditions, there’s a lot of Capital-W Weird at the frayed edges.
There’s a sliding scale from the inconsequential, such as a-ha, through the workaday, such as AC/DC, to the bizarre, such as …And None of Them Knew They Were Robots, right out to the ludicrous, such as :wumpscut: or Sunn O)))
Panic! At The Disco are a member of the legion of Bands With Exclamation Marks. Others that share this affectation include such luminaries as Wham!, Go Robot Go!, and the excellently-named Wow, Owls! There are a few bands that use Exclamations inside their name, just like Panic! At The Disco, bands such as Godspeed You! Black Emperor, The Go! Team, and The Oi! Scouts. There’s even They Go Boom!!, who bring two Exclamation Points to the table, and the ineffable !!!, who bring three.
My point? Don’t have one. Just shooting the breeze.
I’d heard of Panic! At The Disco before today, but if you offered me a deep pan pizza for picking them out of a lineup, I’d go hungry every time. Before today, I couldn’t name one song or album, or even taken a stab at their musical genre. If pressed, I’d have taken a punt and labelled them a Keane soundalike, because no one really knows what that means.
Having now listened to A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out, their 2005 debut, I can categorically say that the band are pop-punk emo with a high and assured vocal and a quirky taste in song titles. As for those song titles… my word, are they pompous and protracted. The album is thirteen songs over forty minutes, with the longest on the album topping out at three minutes forty seconds. With titles such as The Only Difference Between Martyrdom and Suicide is Press Coverage, Lying is the Most Fun a Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off, and There’s a Good Reason These Tables Are Numbered Honey, You Just Haven’t Thought of it Yet, it’ll take you half the album to read the full track list.
Musically, there’s the common beat combo of guitar, bass and drums, but these basic elements are bolstered with mild electronica which does offer up something fresh at times. The sound is surprisingly joyful, but a little repetitive, and the songs all have a crafted, manufactured feel. Of particular note are the vocals, with Brendon Urie delivering a strong performance at every step. The lyrics, too, are worthy of note, both for their playful wit (thumbs up!) and whiningly twee (thumbs down!).
My standout track is the groovy The Only Difference Between Martyrdom and Suicide is Press Coverage, which utilizes auto-tune to drive home the rocking riffs, but if I’m honest the songs are so similar in tone and delivery that you could poke a pin into the CD and hit a solid foundation. And while this is largely a boon, it’s also a touch dull, and by the end of the forty minutes I was getting rather bored.
A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out is decent enough, but it’s nothing ground-breaking. I give it 6/10, and downgrade the Panic! At the Disco to mere Mild Peril.