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Panic! at the Disco | A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out | Retro Album Review

Decaydance/Fueled by Ramen
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

On Sept. 27, Panic! At the Disco’s debut album, A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out, turned 14 years old. Way back in 2005, lead singer Brendon Urie flaunted black eyeliner and a top hat. The carnival-esque, baroque-meets-pop-punk tone jolts the listener’s memory to images of Hot Topic, sleeveless gloves, and rubber bracelets with band names on them. Over a decade later, the album remains a cornerstone of emo culture.

The first half of the album is notably more modern than the latter half. Before the interjection of the synthy, instrumental track, “Intermission,” each song features upbeat dance melodies and a heavy focus on the drum beats. The second half of the album still includes modern guitar themes and heavy drumming, but also features the harpsichord, accordion, and piano. The album is far more abstract than their more recent work, with disjointed, experimental lyrics and tones.

As per the traditions of early-2000’s emo music, the song titles featured on the album are practically complete sentences. For example, in “Lying is the Most Fun a Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off,” Urie’s seductive voice tells a resentful reminiscence of an unfaithful relationship. The bitterness of adultery blends with indifference and pompousness, creating a high energy, sexy sound. 

Hands down, the most influential, popular, brilliant song from A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out is “I Write Sins Not Tragedies.” Fourteen years later, Urie still performs the song at every single concert, though it mostly consists of the audience screaming the lyrics at him. The Billboard Top 100 hit features one of the most iconic lyrics in emo history: “I chime in with a haven’t you people ever heard of closing the goddamn door.” 

With five subsequent albums, Panic’s sound has changed substantially (and Urie no longer wears eyeliner). A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out encapsulates Panic’s edgy beginnings, and continues to be the backbone of the emo lifestyle.

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