Yesterday (March 25th) marked the day Panic! At the Disco’s second studio album, Pretty. Odd., reached a decade since it’s release. Whilst it can be argued that the punk rock band’s second album is either one you know all the songs from or three of them, it was a delve into a genre that provided something for everyone who listened. For me, it was the album that first sparked my interest with the band. I remember being in my room and listening to the radio play ‘Nine in the Afternoon’ from our living room and was instantly taken by it. Although I had listened to the band’s most iconic song, ‘I Write Sins Not Tragedies’, it was the kind of song I liked to listen to but wasn’t really aware of who the artist was. Pretty. Odd. was a weirdly wonderful album that was one of the first that had me more interested in the lyrics than I was in the music.
Pretty. Odd. was almost the album that never happened but only because the band wasn’t aware it existed when they began the process of creating their second album. During the writing process the band became growingly displeased with their current songs and ultimately scraped their previous effort to begin the whole process anew. Taking a new approach to the creation process, Panic! At the Disco had retreated to a cabin and quickly found better success writing what would become Pretty. Odd. Upon its release the album saw quick sales but also a quick decline in those sales when compared to its predecessor, A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out. Regardless of mixed reviews, critics still noted the drastic style change from techno-pop punk to more psychedelic-rock.
Pretty. Odd. opens with a short and sweet apology to fans for the band taking the time they did to write the album. From the first guitar chord, it’s obvious Panic at the Disco dropped the exclamation point to reveal the more obscure and romanticised concept of the album.
The first single to be released from the album, ‘Nine in the Afternoon’ was written as a song to never make sense. The abstract and impossible lyrics are a jumble of words artistically stitched together to create something fun and timeless. The first song to be written on the album, it reflects the new approach of creating music for music’s sake, something the band would enjoy just as much as their fans. Whilst the song does hold connections to the band’s creative state at the time, the idea of getting back to the enjoyment of music and losing track of time whilst doing this, the song is filled with ludicrous imagery that creates a bright and nostalgic aura.
‘Northern Downpour’ is possibly Panic at the Disco’s biggest step away from the sound of A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out, by being something devoid of the noise that sometimes swallowed the words of the songs. The fourth single to be revealed from Pretty. Odd., it is an utterly moving track with lyrics hidden in metaphors that manage to find a connection with anyone who listens. The song is almost the centre piece to Pretty. Odd. containing the unique creativity of ‘Nine in the Afternoon’ but played against a beauty akin to later tracks on the album like ‘When the Day Met the Night.’
Pretty. Odd. can be described as a rock and roll, fairy tale romance and no song embodies this concept more than ‘When the Day Met the Night.’ Played out almost like a lullaby the song recants a completely romanticised story of the sun and the moon falling in love. The psychedelic sound compliments the lyrics in setting them in another reality.
The orchestra infused piece of ‘She Had the World’ continues the dream like tone of Pretty. Odd., a song laced with melancholy reflection through use of poetic lyrics. Possibly not one to be picked out from the album by many, there is just something about this song that gives the need to draw attention to it. ‘She Had the World’ is a fanciful song of simple propositions that still holds the same fantastical element present throughout all of Pretty. Odd.
The closer that brings everything together, ‘Mad as Rabbits’ sends the album out on a hyped up, classic rock fuelled end. Pretty. Odd. was different from A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out for a variety of reasons, but one most notable reason is because Pretty. Odd. had the entire band collectively adding creatively to the album. Not only this but at one point or another, the band all contributed vocals to the album with ‘Mad as Rabbits’ being one of these songs. A duet split between current Panic at the Disco member, Brendon Urie, and ex member, Ryan Ross whilst Spencer Smith and Jon Walker provided backing vocals.
Pretty. Odd. may possibly always remain the marmite among Panic! At the Disco fans but it holds a creative uniqueness and nostalgia to many fans who have followed the band thus far. Throughout the years, Panic! At the Disco has only managed to grow as a band and is still putting out awesome music today but Pretty. Odd. will always remain at the top of my list for favourite Panic albums because it was the one where it all began.
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By Skye W. Winwood