Picking up where they left off on the synth pop and '80s new wave direction of their 2011 album, Vices & Virtues, Panic! At the Disco return with their fourth studio album, 2013's Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die! Still focused around the songwriting duo of lead singer Brendon Urie and drummer Spencer Smith, Panic! At the Disco also feature bassist Dallon Weekes, who joined as a full-time member in 2010. Ever since the original lineup of Panic! At the Disco split in half just after the release of their Beatles-influenced sophomore album, Pretty. Odd., Urie and Smith have carried the emo torch, finding new ways to keep their specific brand of high-energy, emotionally overwrought pop relevant to to whatever sound is happening in mainstream pop music. That said, clearly Panic! At the Disco have never been overly interested in pigeonholing themselves into just one genre, and their latest release does nothing to counter the band's reputation as pop mavericks. Whether it's the Thomas Dolbyisms of "Girls/Girls/Boys" or the malevolent NIN-esque pounding of "Girl That You Love," Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die! never settles too deeply into just one sound. Tracks like "Nicotine" and "Collar Full" even retain much of the anthemic rock bombast of the band's early work, despite the underlying dancefloor intimations coming from the rhythm section and synthesizers. Indeed, '80s synths and dance beats are a good fit for Urie's voice, and though the band sticks closer to its roots than emo class president Fall Out Boy -- whose own delvings into synthesizer pop nearly reach levels of '90s European techno -- Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die! paints an exciting picture of Panic! At the Disco's genre-bending career trajectory to come.
AllMusic Review by Matt Collar