New spring releases
The New Year has ushered in a dynamic slew of musical releases; the pop scene has especially been both lively and refreshing. Two groups in particular – perennial favorites Panic! at the Disco and newcomers James Supercave – are sure to delight listeners with their newest albums.
Panic! At the Disco, Death of a Bachelor
Over the course of their twelve-year career, Panic! at the Disco has transformed from an adolescent pop-punk quartet into a more mature, diverse creative vehicle. Their previous record – 2013’s Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die – was strongly influenced by dance-pop and hip-hop. On their fifth studio album, P!ATD combine their classic pop-punk sound with jazz, gospel, and rap influences.
Death of a Bachelor catapults into the anthemic “Victorious” before segueing into the standout track “Don’t Threaten Me With a Good Time,” which borrows its main riff from The B-52’s “Rock Lobster.”
The group experiments with a number of musical genres on Death of a Bachelor, most notably jazz. The Sinatra-infused title track highlights Urie’s vocal talent, while “Crazy=Genius” resembles a 1930s jitterbug tune. The single “Hallelujah,” which was released last spring, is a solid gospel number, replete with soulful backing vocals and religious imagery.
Despite the band’s exploration of new musical territory, longtime P!ATD fans need not despair; tracks such as “House of Memories” and “LA Devotee” recall the group’s early days.
The album’s true hidden gems are “Golden Days” and “The Good, The Bad, and the Dirty.” The group’s knack for writing catchy hooks and snarky lyrics is apparent, pervading almost every one of the record’s tracks.
Ultimately, Death of a Bachelor is a balanced, well-produced addition to the group’s catalog. Its mature songwriting and originality represent a positive shift in the band’s musical trajectory.
James Supercave, Better Strange
The California-based indie trio released their first full-length album in February, combining new-wave grooves with catchy dream-pop. Drawing inspiration from a number of 20th-century acts, the members of James Supercave demonstrate a mastery of catchy hooks and dance-worthy rhythms.
Better Strange dives headfirst into the title track, which features a powerful vocal performance by frontman Joaquin Pastor.
“Whatever You Want” is an authentic chunk of neo-psychedelia. It segues into the funky “Burn,” which resembles a lost Talking Heads track.
“Get Over Yourself” is as close to grunge as the record gets. It contrasts strongly with “Virtually a Girl,” a semi-acoustic slice of indie-folk.
At times, the group sounds positively British: the piano ballad “With You” recalls Coldplay and Radiohead, while the art-pop of “The Right Thing” evokes the energy of alt-J.
The closing track “Overloaded” sports a wonderfully addictive chorus; sturdy riffs – both vocal & instrumental – permeate the record.
The group’s youthful energy leaves listeners feeling electrified. James Supercave shows serious potential as a successful pop act.
By Madison Stowers