2015 has left Panic! At The Disco in a strange position. Following the official departure of founding member Spencer Smith, Brendon Urie remains as the only recording member of the band. While this leaves the band with its smallest line-up to date, it also gives Urie free reign to further experiment with their sound, beyond the synthpop leanings of their previous album. As such, it’s no surprise that Death Of A Bachelor sounds radically different from Panic’s past albums; however, it also stands out as one of their strongest albums to date.
One of the major defining features of Death Of A Bachelor is the heavy use of samples horns. Brass instruments make an appearance through most songs on the album, whether they’re highlighting the chorus of the punk introductory track Victorious or turning the closing ballad Impossible Year into a sombre jazz number; this jazz style is the second major feature of the album. While Impossible Year is the most noticeable moment, lacking any pop or rock elements, it’s far from the only track to carry Urie’s self-proclaimed Frank Sinatra influences.
In fact, the jazz hybrid tracks stand out as the album’s finest moments. The title track of Death Of A Bachelor mixes Urie’s featured crooner-style vocals and a nostalgic brass arrangement with stuttering trap beats, keeping the production sparse enough to allow you to completely focus on each of the important elements. Crazy=Genius instead experiments with swing jazz arrangements, allowing them to dominate the verses before exploding into a rock chorus, mixing the jazzy beat with buzzing electric guitars; this mixture is visited once again on LA Devotee, though its racing pop rock beat stretches throughout the entire song, making it a complete hybrid rather than swapping between styles.
As a venture completely conceived by Brendon Urie, Death Of A Bachelor stands as an impressive display of his talents. While his vocals were already a strong fit for rock and punk styles, the ability to adapt to jazz so effortlessly played a large part in making the album’s new style work. Similarly, the heavy jazz influences give the album a distinctly unique identity within Panic! At The Disco’s already varied discography. Urie’s desire to expand his horizons is an admirable trait in its own right, but it’s also the main reason that Death Of A Bachelor stands out as one of Panic! At The Disco’s most enjoyable albums.