Earlier this year, Panic! At The Disco drummer Spencer Smith wrote a long, heartfelt letter announcing his departure from the band, leaving frontman Brendon Urie as the band’s sole remaining original member. While a lesser musician may have struggled to keep the band’s aura and music intact, Urie has had no such trouble. The multi-instrumentalist is something of a powerhouse and fronts the band with aplomb. Yes, Panic! At the Disco has definitely turned into the Brendon Urie project, but his decision to channel his talent into the band rather than a solo album is a sound one. Panic! At the Disco has been moving at full speed since Smith’s departure, and its new music retains much of the theatrical brilliance of the its debut “A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out” (2005), while evolving a catchy, pop backbone that fans of heavier rock n’ roll can appreciate as well.
In anticipation of the band’s forthcoming album, “Death of a Bachelor,” which is set for release in January 2016, five singles have already been released: “Hallelujah” in April, “Victorious” in September, “Emperor’s New Clothes” in October and the titular track in November. Now, the band has released “LA Devotee,” a dizzying ode to the City of Angels.
“LA Devotee” starts out with upbeat drums and an unremarkable pop vocal line, both of which set expectations low. Not even 30 seconds later, however, layers of harmonies and horns join in, creating a sweeping effect, which blasts the song into its infectious chorus. Urie sings, “The black magic of Mulholland Drive / Swimming pools under desert skies / Drinking white wine in the blushing light / Just another LA Devotee” — he is clearly enamored with the city. The rest of the track continues with trumpet–tinged verses, Queen-like vocal overdubs and an energetic beat that does not relent. Most interesting is its dark interlude, during which the instruments quiet down and take on a tense vibe as eerie vocals coo “LA Devotee” and crescendo. Climaxing with an on-point falsetto note, the song then slams into the final chorus, which makes quite an impact.
Clearly, Urie knows what he’s doing when it comes to songwriting, and the singles released thus far bode very well for “Death of a Bachelor” as a whole, which makes the album an especially exciting one to look forward to in the new year.