Some time after the release of A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out, Panic at the Disco dropped the exclamation mark and found their parents’ Beatles records in the basement. Pretty. Odd. is completely unlike Panic’s debut. Where A Fever is heavy on danceable punk-y tunes and Chuck Palahniuk- inspired lyrics, Pretty. Odd. is full of sunny and nostalgic pop/rock. Evoking everyone and everything from Sgt. Pepper’s-era Beatles to The Hollies circa 1974, Panic has created a pastiche sound that would be right at home on a car stereo in July. Pretty. Odd. is an immaculately produced album, like its predecessor, the amount of sonic detail is quite remarkable, especially for a band so young.
Lyrically, the band almost all but abandons the wry sarcasm of their debut, and instead goes for folky, psychedelic imagery; songs about a tea-drinking moon falling in love with sun, watermelon smiles, and clouds singing and marching run the risk of being tossed aside as corny or sickly-sweet. Fortunately, singer Brendon Urie conveys these images convincingly, with the right amount of earnest naïveté.
This is an immensely entertaining album, with only a few faults: “We’re So Starving,” while musically adept, falls a little flat lyrically, and the latter half of the album is bogged down with too many slower songs. However, the rest of the album is just as good as anything on the terrific debut: “Nine in the Afternoon,” Do You Know What I’m Seeing?” and “Northern Downpour” all have infectious, sing-along choruses, while “She’s a Handsome Woman” and “That Green Gentleman” have the potential to be all over the radio this summer. With Pretty. Odd. the band has taken that difficult step forward and broken away from a sound that could have been much harder to do after another couple of albums.