Pray For the Wicked

Hayden Masia, Staff Writer

889 days. Fans of the alternative rock/pop band Panic! At The Disco had to wait 889 days for the release of the band’s sixth album Pray for the Wicked following the 2016 release of Death Of A Bachelor. The album was well worth the wait though. Pray For the Wicked starkly contrasts the angsty and chaotic energy of past records. Its new sound showcases the theatricality of Brendon Urie, the only remaining original band member, who recently played Charlie in Kinky Boots on Broadway.

The first song on the album, “(F*** A) Silver Lining,” is a true rock song, with the addition of a theatrical horn section. This song notes that a silver lining simply is not good enough and poetically suggests that “only gold is hot enough.” The song marks the beginning of a powerful album and sets the stage for the mood and sound of the following songs.

Next comes “Say Amen (Saturday Night),” which was the first song released off of the album. This song has a similar rock feel to “Silver Lining,” but with an almost sinister energy. The chorus begins with a reference to the album’s title when Urie sings: “I pray for the wicked on the weekend.” With a flashy horn section and strong bass, “Say Amen” brings the spirit of a Saturday night to life.

The album turns slightly more mellow with “Hey Look Ma, I Made It.” This song is much more retro, substituting guitars and basses for synthesizers, but keeping the ever-present horn section. “Hey Look Ma” is a playful biography of Urie’s time as a musician and how he finally seems to believe that “he’s made it.” However, he also talks about the dark side of fame and success, singing, “Friends are happy for me or they’re honeysuckle phonies,” implying that they are either genuinely proud of him or are only pretending to be sweet.

Following “Hey Look Ma, I Made It” is the second song released from the album, “High Hopes.” This song conveys the positive message of believing, even when things are not looking up. The lines, “Had to have high, high hopes for a living/shooting for the stars when I couldn’t make a killing / didn’t have a dime but I always had a vision / always had high, high hopes,” show Urie’s perseverance and belief that things will get better if you believe in yourself and your future.

The most theatrical song of the album is “Roaring 20s.” This song is pure fun and references Urie’s stint on Broadway in Kinky Boots. After turning 30, Urie came back to the band, implying that his days on Broadway were his own “Roaring 20s.”Next up is “Dancing’s Not a Crime.” Here, Urie implores his audience to just have fun for a while, reflected by the upbeat nature of the song.

The seventh song on the album is “One of the Drunks,” which speaks to Urie’s controversial party-filled past while also exposing the parts of such a  lifestyle that is not so glamorous. The line “Damn, it’s so good, I guess” alludes to an underlying sadness and struggle in Urie’s life that others are often quick to dismiss or ignore.

Following this rather dismal song is “The Overpass, In which” Urie reminisces about a lost relationship, asking his past lover to “meet [him] at the overpass.” Despite the heavy subject, the song is still fast-paced and energetic, showcasing the band’s passionate energy.

“King Of The Clouds” is one of the few slower songs on the album. This dream-like song explores the ideas of transcendence and the undeniable untrustworthiness of humans, with Urie saying, “I don’t trust anything / or anyone / below the sun.”

The penultimate song on Pray for the Wicked is “Old Fashioned,” which focuses on Urie’s years as a teenager, including his experiences with alcohol and medications. The band is able to turn these stories into an anthem with a strong beat and chorus perfect for singing along to.

Lastly, “Dying in LA” is the final song on the album. It is a melancholic song, describing the lives of dreamers failing in Los Angeles. The only instrument featured in the song is a piano, played by Urie; this simplicity is very different from the flashy synthesizers, guitars, drums, basses, and horns used in nearly every other track. “Dying in LA” takes the listener away from the bright dreams and shiny facade of Los Angeles and back to reality, where dreams do not always work out the way you planned.

Pray For the Wicked could very well be one of Panic! At The Disco’s best albums to date. It is a vision of calm and chaos all at once, and one of the best albums of the year.