Brendon Urie’s mind is continuously swarming with music. The musician and mastermind behind Panic! at the Disco, didn’t want there to be a gap between his last album, 2013’s Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die!, and its successor, Death of a Bachelor (DCD2/Fueled By Ramen). After finishing touring on Panic!’s last release, Urie found his mind racing, filled with ideas for new songs and took only a few weeks off before heading into the studio again. The musician installed a piano in his living room and wrote there constantly, with his starting point being Frank Sinatra, an artist Urie has admired since childhood. “As I’ve gotten older I’ve gained a deeper appreciation for the people that wrote the songs for him,” Urie says. “And for his use of his voice and the way he had to relate to everything. I wanted springboard off that and take cues from jazz as I wrote the music.”
The first song Urie penned was gospel-infused “Hallelujah,” which was released as a single in April. He wasn’t necessarily writing specifically for an album at the time, but once the song emerged it became clear that it was the beginning of something good. The track arrived easily to Urie and he took that as a cue as he continued writing. “It set the tone for the whole process,” he says. “I wanted to take a laid-back approach. I realized that you don’t need to spend all of the time on one song. I used to run into that problem all the time, where I would sit and stew over a song, wanting to make it even better. This time I had more appreciation for what came out.”
For Urie, what came out on Death of a Bachelor is a deeply personal statement. It’s both an expression of the person he has become and an inherent internal battle as the musician grapples with growing into himself. The title references Urie’s surprise that his relationship with Panic! at the Disco is by far his longest. In a way, he’s married to the band and its many devoted fans. That commitment, aided by the support of those followers, has pushed him into a new life and a fresh approach. “It’s a very intimate record,” Urie notes. “It’s me overcoming the past and bringing up this new era and presenting it in that way. It felt like I came into my own this time around.”
The album opens another chapter for Urie in a lot of ways, especially as it’s his first release since the departure of bandmate Spencer Smith. For that reason, Death of a Bachelor truly reflects Urie’s own journey. After paying homage to his Las Vegas roots on Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die!, here Urie shifts his focus to his current home of Los Angeles, reveling his love for the California city. “LA Devotee,” a buoyant pop-rock anthem, centers on this idea. “It’s the darkness of winding roads around the hills where I live,” Urie says. “Late nights drinking wine with friends near a fire. There are so many little communal things that warm me up to the town. It’s become this beautiful diamond in the rough.”
The rest of the album’s tracks vary in tone and theme, exploring Urie’s interest in Sinatra alongside his love for Queen. “Victorious,” a surging pop number, is an anthemic battle cry, urging celebration and revelry. It echoes the musician’s desire to become victorious in his own work and the driving force of energy to propel him forward is infectious. “Crazy=Genius” is a swinging, theatrical romp, infused with raucous horns – the sort of song you imagine as the soundtrack to a roaring ‘20s party. “Death of a Bachelor,” the soulful and crooning title track is a jazzy tribute to “I’ve Got The World on a String.” Urie takes those inspirations even further on album closer “Impossible Year,” a lovely, poignant ballad that strips away everything except the singer’s voice, his piano and accompanying horns. It’s sentimental in the best possible way, which was something Urie wanted to achieve on the album. Overall, Death of a Bachelor is grandiose and triumphant, an undeniable collection of songs that both allude to the past and create a uniquely contemporary sensibility.
“I’m always trying to improve as a vocalist, as a producer and as a performer,” Urie says. “I want to see how far I can push myself because that way you can end up in a spot you never dreamed possible. Every album I feel like I’m happier and happier with how it’s going, but I’m never fully satisfied. I want to keep seeing how far I can take this thing. I’m proud that this band is this progressing, ever-changing, shape-shifting project that I’ve been able to be a part of for over ten years. To me, that feels miraculous.”
With a fervent fan-base that has established the band as a social media powerhouse, Panic! At The Disco has stayed relevant through the past decade’s ever-shifting music industry. The internationally acclaimed rock band has accumulated huge accolades over the past ten years, including going double-platinum on 2005's A Fever You Can't Sweat Out and debuting at No. 2 on Billboard with both 2008’s Pretty. Odd. and 2013’s Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die!. The band’s single “Hallelujah” has accumulated over nine million streams on Spotify and nearly seven million plays on YouTube. It’s been Panic!’s rabid, loyal fans who have helped cement the group as an essential one and allowed them to build and sustain this successful career. So much so that Urie credits the fans with much of the inspiration and sound for Death of a Bachelor.
“I’m at where I’m at because people are still into what I’m doing,” Urie acknowledges. “That is the most validating feeling – having people willingly take this journey with me. And I’m writing this music because I want to share it with people who care about it as much as I do.”