Cinderella stories are a dime a dozen in the music industry, but Panic! at the Disco has pulled off something that others can only hope to repeat. The Las Vegas, Nevada-based emo dance-pop group hails from a high school garage band gone legit in the matter of a short time. The band publicized themselves to the record industry with a simple cut and paste job of a link to their PureVolume.com site on the blog of Pete Wentz (bassist for Chicago-based emo-punk group, Fall Out Boy). Wentz was so impressed by the tracks that he decided to hook them up with his band’s record label and indie powerhouse, Fueled by Ramen Records.
Since then, Panic! at the Disco has gone on to tour across the country and humbly maintains its top place on PureVolume. The charts don’t stop there though, Panic! at the Disco was rated in the Billboard heatseaker chart at #1 after nearly 10,000 sold in the first week and #1 on the MySpace music chart. The band sells on dance-pop with soulful attitude and their premiere music video from their hit release “I Write Sins, Not Tragedies” debuted on MTV’s Total Request Live at #10 and the album currently stands in the top 40 for the month of February on Billboard. Their tour with fellow label namesakes The Academy Is, Acceptance and hellogoodbye has already been sold out for months.
So what makes them so hot? First off, their debut album, A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out, is a mighty release. The albums tracks are uniquely crafted with retro effects and vocal embellishments. Panic! at the Disco’s style borrows from the scenester emo-pop world, but carefully makes sure that they don’t overdo it into something unbearably mushy.
Panic! at the Disco also brings a highly polished record up to the table. The synth-punk and ridiculously titled tracks like “The Only Difference Between Martyrdom And Suicide Is Press Coverage” and “Lying Is The Most Fun A Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off” are reminiscent of Fall Out Boy’s song titles. However, the whiny vocals are left behind and the ’80s beat machine has been recommissioned. Track eight is the balance point though, appropriately titled “Intermission.” It starts out as a peppy entrancing techno beat and then mellows down into a piano with an eerie fade out.
The second half of the album makes good use of strings, bells and horns with a feel that emo-punk rock can feel at home with the Ratpack. Immediately following the intermission is “But It’s Better If You Do” which is perhaps the most craftily composed track on the whole disc. The piano, guitar, keyboards and forceful percussion come together for a pinnacle that attenuates with pizzicato medley that progressively flows into the next track.
From the outside, the band fits the formulaic punk band: the apathetic under-20 poster boys, sporting well-groomed mullets and retro blazers with loosely drawn solid color ties. The difference is that they keep their cool on the inside too. Instead of drunk-love emo the quality is more concentrated on a deep musical appreciation and a spirit of experimental hybridism. Cinderella never had it so good.