Reduced to a duo of Brendon Urie and Spencer Smith, neither of whom were primary songwriters during the band’s early years, Panic at the Disco pick up the thread they started with their skewed Beatlesque sophomore set, Pretty. Odd., and turn Vices & Virtues into a curious little nesting doll of an album. Elements of the band’s energetic emo are here, but it’s only one bit on a record that follows the kitchen sink aesthetic of Pretty. Odd., one where the production is too restless to sit still for more than a couple of bars. The keystone here isn’t so much the ‘60s as it is ‘80s new wave with synths and echoed guitars uncannily recalling the glory days of 1983, but Panic at the Disco’s approach is distinctly modern, letting the past intermingle with the present so it all creates a Day-Glo digital collage. Often, the individual pieces of this patchwork pop are more captivating than the overall image, yet there’s still an undeniable appeal to Urie and Smith’s crazed earnest energy; they may not know where they’re going but they know all the different routes to get there.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine