Panic! At the Disco
A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out
ell, they don't bring any high end content to the table, but at least Panic! At the Disco can boast a breakthrough of their very own. Ever since Tom befriended his first skanked-out 14 year old, you've been waiting for the point where emo wussed out so much you could no longer call it “rock” music, and P!AtD have obliged. This band do not rock, rawk, or incite bull-horn hand gestures in anybody. They bring to mind, perhaps, Maroon 5's younger brothers wearing long sleeved t-shirts to hide very minor self-harm scars. This is straight up AOR dressed in ear studs and black blazers, and the most irritating thing is that it isn't even good AOR. Jason Mraz could cause a more substantial mosh-pit than these chancers.
This entire fucking album reeks of a band that spent 12 years listening to The Smiths. Not in a “Hey, look, you can match pity with a self-depreciating wit and danceability” manner, but in a “Wow, that Morrissey guy sure does use a lot of words! That must mean he's super-intelligent!” way. I mean, look at these song titles: “The Only Difference Between Martyrdom and Suicide is Press Coverage” and “There's a Good Reason These Tables are Numbered Honey, You Just Haven't Figured it Out Yet.” The USS Cole bombings had more subtlety—and the actual songs aren’t that much better.
I'm sure you'll have your own personal least favourite thing about A Fever You Can't Sweat Out, and mine is the incessant attempts at creating a narrator/audience relationship between the band and You, 15 year old bi-polar child of an English teacher in Harrogate. However, instead of adding a literary feel to the whole endeavour, the lyrics instead resemble The Hold Steady if someone starved Craig Finn of oxygen for around two years.
Attempts to break themselves out of the “THANX 4 THE ADD!!!” ghetto embarrass too. “The Only Difference...” tries a stab at some sort of techno-punk middle-eight for the sake of eclecticism, but instead just reminds one of Republica.
Look, New York “tastemaker” and inventor of the iPod Ultragrrrrrrrrrrrl recently decided to throw down against the critical establishment about how they have ignored the upswing in popularity for these kind of emo acts, King Canutes of the journalistic scene trying to hold back the tide of kohl-eyeliner by waving a Dangerdoom CD at it. And to some extent she's right. What we're dealing with here is a whole heap of “Can't sing, can't act, can't dance a little” directed by hacks towards a scene that's already achieved a deeper level of cultural penetration than grunge did at the start of the 90s or nu-metal did at the end of it.
The problem is twofold though. One, Panic! At the Disco do not need my validation. Two... a lot of this music isn't very good. Hawthorne Heights suck, Fall Out Boy suck, My Chemical Romance kinda work in the same way that “Love Will Tear Us Apart” scene does in Series 7: The Contenders, but that's it. So, look, emo bands of America, here's a challenge. Impress me. Force me to cover your work at great length and catalogue you to the general public. Make me, make you. And put down that fucking copy of Franny and Zooey as well.