Panic! At The Disco started off as the ultimate Myspace-era emo band. The Las Vegas group bonded over Blink-182 songs, got signed after sending a LiveJournal message to Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz and quickly became the next big thing in alternative rock thanks to their flamboyant fashion sense and smart, genre-smashing songs about lust, love and coming of age.
In the years since, they’ve tried their hand at soulful ‘60s pop, urgent electro dance and even collaborated with Taylor Swift on the oh-so-sugary ‘Me!’. Panic! At The Disco have constantly evolved and now, with vocalist Brendon Urie the last man standing, the group are a festival-headlining, crossover giant on the verge of a brand new era with the forthcoming August release of new album Viva Las Vengeance.
Here's their story so far, told via their studio albums...
6. Vices & Virtues (2011)
For two albums, Panic! At The Disco had thrived on the collaboration between guitarist Ryan Ross and vocalist Brendon Urie, but Ross (alongside bassist Jon Walker) left the band after touring Pretty. Odd., with most people assuming that was the end of Panic!.
The group's third album Vices & Virtues sees Urie and drummer Spencer Smith fighting back with a whole lot to prove. From the theatrical Mona Lisa to the urgent disco punk of Let’s Kill Tonight, Vices & Virtues is perhaps the most aggressive, eclectic record Panic! have put their name to, as the band tried to figure out who they were and where they wanted to go next.
5. Pray For The Wicked (2018)
Following on from the breakout success of Death Of A Bachelor, Pray For The Wicked saw Brendon Urie leaning into the shiny world of radio pop superstardom. Eternally optimistic and designed to soundtrack jubilant celebrations at gigs and in bedrooms at home, Panic!’s sixth album is a victory parade for everything the band (and Urie) had achieved.
However, with that said, it didn’t really push their story forward nor did it add anything new to the constantly evolving flavour of the band.
4. Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die (2013)
For many younger fans, this album - a fearless, rebellious electro pop record about love, acceptance and isolation represented an entry point to Panic! At The Disco. It's full of swaggering songs like the party-starting Miss Jackson and the hammering Vegas Nights but it’s Girls/Girls/Boys, a funky ode to self-expression and sexuality, that is the record’s standout moment.
After the identity crisis of Vices & Virtues and Pretty. Odd., Too Weird... came as a return to confident form that’s been an unwavering mainstay of Panic! ever since.
3. A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out (2005)
The scrappy record that started it all. A collision of emo, electro, pop-punk and whatever vintage instruments the teenage band could get their hands on, A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out is an energetic ode to youthful excitement. Arriving at the same time as streaming, it spoke to a generation of kids who suddenly had access to all kinds of music without worrying about genre boundaries.
I Write Sins Not Tragedies is still an absolute rager while tracks like Build God, Then We’ll Talk leant into the melodramatic nature of that ‘00s scene perfectly. It’s rough around the edges but it captures that moment in time beautifully.
2. Death Of A Bachelor (2016)
Panic! essentially became a solo project on this record and Brendon Urie really threw himself into the spotlight. Honing in on that sense of jubilance, tracks like Victorious, Hallelujah and Don’t Threaten Me With A Good Time saw the Panic! become the go-to-gang for feel good pop while the title track and House Of Memories saw Urie get vulnerable for the first time in a long while, bringing that emo tag back into the present day.
Every distinct, unique song on this record is an absolute hit.
1. Pretty. Odd. (2008)
Now, hear us out. Over their six albums, Panic! At The Disco have been celebrated for their ability to evolve, surprise and go against what’s expected. That stunning debut album inspired countless copycat bands and it would have been so easy for the sudden superstars to come back with more of the same, but their desire to shock resulted in this - a Beatles-inspired record that traded in scrappy synths and urgent electric guitars for beautiful piano and soulful poetry.
Musically, Pretty. Odd. is the black sheep of the Panic! discography but the fearless, reckless spirit that inhabits every inch of this record is the very reason Panic! are so brilliant and so unpredictable even now, 17 years into their career. Without this album, there’s every chance the band would have faded into obscurity but Pretty. Odd. gave them the confidence to take risks and do whatever they want.