Panic! At The Disco: A Fever You Can't Sweat Out
A Review

4 May 2006
By Jason Luttrell
United States of AmericaSalt Lake City, Utah, United States of America

Panic! At The Disco: A Fever You Can't Sweat OutI stumbled across A Fever You Can't Sweat Out by Panic! At The Disco while surfing around Panic! At The Disco - A Fever You Can't Sweat Out late one night. After listening to a few clips, I knew this was an album I had to have for my collection. This is an album that defies convention, skips genre boundaries (it was hard to classify for this review), and is full of contrasts and unexpected surprises that keep the listener engaged and interested.

The band got its start in Las Vegas, Nevada, after four high school friends formed a band and started experimenting with different sounds and styles. The band consists of Brendon Urie (vocals, accordion, guitar, keyboards, organ, and piano), Ryan Ross (accordion, guitar, keyboards, organ, and piano), Brent Wilson (bass guitar), and Spencer Smith (drums and percussion). These are very young, talented, and determined musicians; after starting college, Urie realised the band was more important and held more promise, so he dropped out of college to make Panic! At The Disco a success. The plan worked. The band's popularity grew after touring with Fall Out Boy towards the end of 2005, and the band's first single, "The Only Difference Between Martyrdom And Suicide Is Press Coverage", has garnered popularity with MTV audiences in the States. The band's latest single, "I Write Sins Not Tragedies", is following its predecessor.

So how does Panic! At The Disco defy convention and cross the genre boundaries? The music is full of contradictions. On one hand, the band creates songs that are solid rock anthems, complete with distorted electric guitar, written to start a party and get people moving. On the other hand, each song possesses strong electronic keyboard and synthesizer elements that belie the traditional garage-band rock grooves. Furthermore, many of the songs include drum machines and vocals with sleek programming, but in the same song the listener will find a contrasting theatrical, Vaudevillian effort, complete with trashy sounding accordions and cabaret-style piano playing. Finally, the bridge of "Build God, Then We'll Talk" features an unexpected cello-heavy string quartet before moving into the final chorus. And if these juxtapositions leave the reader wondering "how does this all work?" the band also employs excellent use of acoustic guitar riffs, most notably in "Nails For Breakfast, Tacks For Snacks", before lilting into a new-age production akin to the Postal Service.

With all of these guitars, keyboards, accordions, and other contradictions, it is amazing this CD is even remotely cohesive to the listener. Because the band maintains the use of nearly all of the instruments throughout the CD, continues to push the genre boundaries, and strives to be a fun-loving rock band, the aforementioned juxtapositions are clever and artistic. Make no mistake: this is not a band that threw some songs together and then went on tour. Panic! At The Disco has worked hard to create a unique sound that will not be easy to replicate.

While the trumped-up bravado of "London Beckoned Songs About Money By Machines" is off putting when one considers the ages of the musicians (all members are barely out of high school), the song appears to have more meaning than the phrase "if you talk you'd better walk, you'd better back your shit up" implies. Considering the fact that the members took great risks to create this band and this CD, the song becomes one of personal proof and vindication for the band. Afterall, at such a young age, the band members had to prove to the critics and their families that this risk is worthwhile, and that they can succeed. Not only is the effort worthwhile, but the CD is an admirable collection of clever, witty, and contagious songs perfect for a party, but also accessible to the solitary listener looking to lighten his or her mood.

"Time To Dance" talks about a girl starving for attention who gets more than she bargained for, while the sexual, sensual, and nearly-whispered vocals of "Lying Is The Most Fun A Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off" speaks about a relationship that has ended, and the tangled feelings of jealousy and revenge that come as a by-product of that situation. "Lying Is The Most Fun A Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off" is also complemented by the inciting jealousy, envy, revenge, and shame of "But It's Better If You Do", complete with quirky, driving piano, strong guitar riffs, and impressive rhythmic drumming (not produced by a drum machine). This song also showcases the influences of the band's Las Vegas, Nevada homeland by mentioning strip joints and cabarets. Although the members are young, there is a great sense of emotional maturity and awareness for human behaviour not often found in albums coming from bands with similar backgrounds.

These are just some of the standout tracks on this album. Final songs worth mentioning are "I Write Sins Not Tragedies", with its accompanying video now circulating the Internet and TV, and, finally, the unique cabaret and drunken merry-making of the well executed "There's A Good Reason Why These Tables Are Numbered Honey, You Just Haven't Thought of it Yet".

Evidently, the band has no difficulty creating infectious lyrics and melodies, but the titles of its songs, while creative and humorous, may prove to be fatal for the band's success in mainstream radio circuits. Not only is it a lot to say for a radio announcer, but the titles are long and wordy, and will most likely not be easily remembered by the casual listener. Furthermore, the titles do not come from the lyrics themselves, so people are forced to remember the "caricatures of intimacy" song is really called "Build God, Then We'll Talk". In addition, the "Introduction" and "Intermission", while interesting musically, could easily have been left out. In a 47-minute album, it is unlikely any listener will need an intermission. The introduction is a mere 37 seconds of distortion and faint piano playing, which features a reprise of the piano in "There's A Good Reason Why These Tables Are Numbered Honey, You Just Haven't Thought of it Yet", but is easily skipped; who needs an introduction to a rock album? I'd prefer to skip the vague distortion sounds and get straight to the full-length rock songs.

Despite these few shortcomings, the band has a lot of promise, and if music lovers are bored of the current radio standards and are looking for something more inventive, Panic! At The Disco's A Fever You Can't Sweat Out has plenty of layers of character, juxtaposition, and contrast to keep even the casual listener interested. I only offer one warning: these songs will be stuck in your head with even one exposure.

brainwavez.org Opinion
Rating: 7/10
Key Facts (Review Copy)
Artist: Panic! At The Disco
Title: A Fever You Can't Sweat Out
Label: Decaydence
Release Date:
27 September 2005 (US)
13 February 2006 (UK)
Genre: Dance, Rock, Pop, Electronic

Track Listing:
1. Introduction ... 00:37
2. The Only Difference Between Martyrdom and Suicide is Press Coverage ... 02:54
3. London Beckoned Songs About Money Written by Machines ... 03:23
4. Nails for Breakfast, Tacks for Snacks ... 03:23
5. Camisado ... 03:11
6. Time to Dance ... 03:22
7. Lying Is the Most Fun a Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off ... 03:20
8. Intermission ... 02:35
9. But It's Better If You Do ... 03:25
10. I Write Sins Not Tragedies ... 03:06
11. I Constantly Thank God for Esteban ... 03:30
12. There's a Good Reason These Tables Are Numbered Honey, You Just Haven't Thought of It Yet ... 03:16
13. Build God, Then We'll Talk ... 03:40

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