My View: 'A Fever You Can't Sweat Out' by Panic! at the Disco
By Jeremy Castillo
Special to The Advertiser
By Jeremy Castillo
CD: "A Fever You Can't Sweat Out" by Panic! at the Disco; Fueled by Ramen Records
Release: September 2005
My take: Panic! at the Disco has nearly mastered the art of recording catchy songs, having done it several times in its debut album "A Fever You Can't Sweat Out." The band could almost be interchangeable with Fall Out Boy because Fall Out singer Patrick Stump sounds very much like Panic! vocalist Ryan Ross.
The band is energetic as it upholds its own brand of borderline-psychotic dance rock. The beats are incredibly contagious. With no conventional or consistent songwriting technique, Panic!'s lyrics read like weird short stories with choruses thrown in. Song titles are long-winded, random and have almost nothing to do with the subject at hand. And the titles aren't always very original.
Author Chuck Palahniuk is referenced three times: "The Only Difference Between Martyrdom and Suicide is Press Coverage" is a line from his novel "Survivor"; the song "Time to Dance" is based on "Invisible Monsters"; the line "Just for the record / the weather today is ..." appears several times in the novel "Diary." A line Natalie Portman speaks in the 2004 movie "Closer" is copied word for word and broken into two song titles with "Lying is the Most Fun a Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off" and "But It's Better If You Do."
Constant pop culture references aside, Panic! songs can get stuck in your head for a long time. The words are so random, and delivered with such energy, they stick to you almost instantly and refuse to go away.
However, on closer inspection, what the band sings about is average. "I Write Sins, Not Tragedies" is about infidelity; "Martyrdom" is about the fame singer Ryan Ross assumed he would have with his band; "London Beckoned Songs About Money Written by Machines" is in the same vein, but about fame achieved. The line "We're just a wet dream for the webzines" shows the band targeted teenagers of the Hot Topic/MySpace scene right from the get-go.
Interestingly, several f- and s-bombs are dropped, in explicit contexts, no less, throughout the album, along with lots of mentions of risque situations. However, there's no "Parental Advisory" label to be found anywhere.
Much like Good Charlotte was a few years back, Panic! at the Disco is just phase music. It's not high quality or anything special, but it's very catchy and listenable. Panic! is a lot like potato chips: fun at first, then you eat too much and get sick of them. Listeners are advised to enjoy "A Fever You Can't Sweat Out" while they can, because soon it'll be a record you can't stomach.
Jeremy Castillo is a student at Windward Community College and editor of the college's newspaper, Ka 'Ohana.