100 for 2000 – #88. Panic At the Disco – Pretty. Odd

To end another wonderful decade of great music, I’m going to write about ten albums from each of the last ten years, that are either great, or hold some sort of personal significance. A musical kiss off to 00s.

2008 – #8. Panic At the Disco – Pretty. Odd
(Fueled By Ramen)

Before this album, I hated Panic At the Disco. To my defense, I was hardly their target market. In truth, I found their long and over wrought song titles quite funny and witty (I mean, titles like ‘The Only Difference Between Martyrdom and Suicide Is the Press Coverage‘ are pretty awesome). The harmonies jarred with me, but the band had hooks. I just wish they wouldn’t beat them to death. Anyway that all changed with Pretty. Odd., a pop rock album as fine as anything I’ve ever heard.

There is almost no emo on this record, and barely a trace that this album was made in the late 00s. It sounds, quite frankly, like volume five of Children Of the Nuggets. I’m not sure how this happened. What I’ve read has been little help – it was almost like they decided to change their sound overnight. That said, they join a long line of men who can play music who fall under the spell of the British Invasion in their early 20s.

The Beatles, Beach Boys and Byrds all come together on their masterpiece, Nine In the Afternoon. It has that awesome Mr Blue Sky urgent drum beat and lifts, breaks, trumpets fly in and falls around in crowd noise and applause. So many power pop bands would kill to write a song this good. And yet, it’s by no means power pop by numbers. It’s a bit skewered but their off kilter lyrics, and the guitars are a bit tougher. It’s a weird mutant of 60s rock.

I first heard Nine In the Afternoon in a boardroom. It was loud, and it was awesome. And the rest of the album is not as great, but it’s still pretty good. And surprising. The pretty acoustic ballad Northern Downpour is another classic. Plenty of more spazzo Brit invasion stuff (the lovely That Green Gentlemen is a lost Nuggets song if I ever heard one, with fuzzy garage guitar buzzing away).

With their massive success, they had a run of the studio. And they experiment. Little music hall ditties like I Have Friends In Holy Spaces to Pas De Cheval, an awesome Supergrass-y thing with an horse gallop beat. As much as Sgt Pepper has been bandied around when people talk about this album, it’s really the best of Oasis‘s blissed out psych take of the 60s, mixed with Blur Great Escape-era schizophrenia. If there is one band to compare these guys too, it is Blur. Very young men who are smart and want to be different, and have the musical talent to do it.

Sadly, so sadly, this album only did ok. And it probably only did that because of their huge fanbase already. Their original fans cried foul. Shy pop fans could never get past who the band was. I think history will remember this album like Their Satanic Majesties Request. Stones fans hate that record, but pop fans love it.

I’m not sure who in the band drove the vision of this record, but the band is now split in two. Two members left to start a new band, two remain in Panic At the Disco. Which leaves the possibility of another great hybrid album pretty much at zero. At least we have this excellent out of time album, that will never date.

Even the video for Nine In the Afternoon is brilliant. The Mr Blue Sky for the 00s. One of the very best songs of the decade.

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