As attention grabbing as a flashing neon sign on the Las Vegas strip, Panic! At the Disco's fifth studio album, 2016's Death of a Bachelor, is a volcano-sized martini glass of emotive, theatrical, genre-bending pop. The first album recorded by the band since the departure of drummer Spencer Smith, who officially left in 2015, Death of a Bachelor is largely the vision of lead vocalist and founding member Brendon Urie. Inspired by Urie's 2013 marriage, as well as legendary vocalist Frank Sinatra's 100th birthday in 2015, Death of a Bachelor works as a loose concept album celebrating the end of Urie's party-hearty single life, and his creative maturation from emo-pop poster boy to self-styled rock sophisticate. Produced by Urie along with Jake Sinclair (Five Seconds of Summer, Taylor Swift, P!nk), the album showcases an even more expansive sound than 2013's Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die!, rife with touches of body-bumping hip-hop, Sinatra-esque lyricism, and anthemic, Queen-like exuberance. Indeed, Panic! At the Disco have never been anything less than grandiose and Death of a Bachelor is no exception, revealing some of the group's most ambitious and over-the-top productions. With Sinclair, Weezer's Rivers Cuomo, Sam Hollander (Gym Class Heroes, Metro Station, Fitz & the Tantrums), and other collaborators at his side, Urie stuffs his songs with rambunctious, Beyoncé-ready beats, laser-toned synthesizers, muscular guitars, and a peacock's array of double-tracked vocals. Thankfully, he doesn't sacrifice any of Panic!'s infectious melodicism and pop craftsmanship in the process. Cuts like the gospel-inspired "Hallelujah" and the swaggeringly cheeky "Don't Threaten Me with a Good Time," self-consciously built around the B-52's "Rock Lobster" guitar riff, are as catchy as anything Panic! has ever created. Impressively, the densely if deftly packed production does little to detract from the sheer brilliance of Urie's voice on cuts like the burnished title track and wild-eyed, post-party hangover anthem "Victorious." Urie even summons his best Sinatra-style vocal warmth on the album’s closer, the languid, stylishly world-weary ballad "Impossible Year." Ultimately, Death of a Bachelor marks the final transformation of Panic! At the Disco from egalitarian emo band to collaborative pop band headed with singular charisma by Urie the uncontested chairman.
AllMusic Review by Matt Collar