Album reviews

Written by: Courtney Miller

Pray for the Wicked by Panic! at the Disco

Oh, Panic!, Brendon Urie’s vocals always need ample room to wow an audience, and you came so close this time. The latest from one of everyone’s top three favourite emo groups of the 2000s expands upon the success of the previous album, Death of a Bachelor, by continuing to showcase Urie’s Frank Sinatra influences.

     While I would argue Death of a Bachelor did it better, Pray for the Wicked is no slouch. “(Fuck A) Silver Lining” showcases a crazy falsetto and a “fuck it” mentality that I’m sure we’re all feeling as those of us in summer semester classes close in upon finals. I’d recommend this one on repeat to let all those frustrations out, and trying to hit those high notes will tire you right out — not that I’ve tried . . .

     But also, take a shot at the falsetto in “Say Amen (Saturday Night)” which is a lot of fun with a nice pop/rock beat. If you’re looking for something endlessly catchy that will haunt your next few weeks, “Hey Look Ma, I Made It” has a solid melody and great musicality. If you want a deep and yet mildly uncomfortable viewing experience, also check out its music video.

     Panic! has a penchant for ending their albums on a slower, more soulful number, and Pray for the Wicked is no exception. “Dying In LA” is probably the most Sinatra-like offering on the album, but other highlights include “High Hopes,” “Roaring 20s,” “Dancing’s Not A Crime,” “One of the Drunks,” “The Overpass,” “King of the Clouds,” “Old Fashioned.” Oh wait, that’s the whole rest of the tracklist? Hmm.

     PS: Panic! is coming to Vancouver on August 11 if you want to catch a backflip and insane vocals live.

In The Waiting by Kina Grannis

Despite what you may know of Kina Grannis due to her myriad of song covers, her original music is soft, acoustic, and almost whimsical. If you need a soundtrack to a romantic montage in a teen movie, pick almost any song and it will perfectly capture the mood. If that’s not something you’re trying to do, though, you’ll be hard-pressed to find something worth listening to on this album.

     Her songs are well-written and well-executed, but they can generally be categorized as nice. Her voice is nice, the lyrics are nice, the arrangements are nice, and it’s lovely to see her getting out there and putting her own music out. But there’s not a lot, from this album, which is truly exciting. There’s no unique quality to her voice or her composition and I find myself “in the waiting” for something that demands I listen to this record again. I can’t find it.

     Again though, it’s perfectly nice. It’s not a bad way to spend some time. A lot of the songs are drawn out, and feel like they last six or seven minutes instead of the three or four that they actually do. They also kind of run into each other simply because they are so similar in style. But as long as you’re in the mood for a soft and gentle serenade versus a head-banging time, you’ll enjoy yourself. Top picks are definitely “California” and “In The Waiting.”

Less Noise: A Collection of Songs by a Band Called The Maine by The Maine

I had such high expectations, but alas, I find myself slightly disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an excellent collection of acoustic versions of their songs, which spans their entire discography (two songs from each album thus far). But for a lot of them, the Maine has slowed the tempo right down, taking songs that were a little depressing but high-energy and making them really depressing with powerful yet slow energy.

     There are some standouts, though, notably “Saving Grace,” “Some Days,” “Forever Halloween,” and “How Do You Feel?” “Forever Halloween” doesn’t stray too far from the original, but “Into Your Arms” changed key and went from romantic to melancholy. The shift between “Into Your Arms” and “We’ll All Be” isn’t pronounced, and it took me, a seasoned listener, around 20 seconds to clue-in to the change. (I was making pizza at the time, but still.)

     The songs are well-done, and where major conversions have happened, they’re musically-skilled conversions. Plus, it’s hella cute that they made this for their fans and to show their appreciation of the people who have gotten them this far. Not every band shows that kind of appreciation and dedication to their fan bases, and the fans enjoy the effort.

     I think that if this is your first introduction to the Maine, start somewhere else instead, like Pioneer or American Candy. But if you’re familiar with them, but not too familiar, definitely give this a listen.

Magic by Colin Weeks

Colin Weeks is a local independent musician who now has three EPs under his belt, all of which are available on Spotify. Back in 2016, The Peak interviewed him about his first, and now here we are, following up on his latest while it’s fresh.

     He’s kept a sort of signature style over the years, a guitar-centric melody with enticing vocals, and a precise blend of reggae and Harry Belafonte influence. “Island Double” opens the EP with success, enticing the listener with a catchy beat and relatable lyrics. He released “Magic” before the EP dropped, and it’s a solid track. I do however have a single qualm: when the random pilot comes onto the track to tell you your flight is landing, is it really necessary that he launches into a brief, out-of-the-blue-rap? Methinks not, but rumour has it that I may have been wrong before.

     Every time I listen to Weeks, I feel like I should be kicking back on a beach, sipping something out of a pineapple like so many misguided tourists before me, and “Island Double” is a perfect example of that feeling. “I’m On Your Side,” meanwhile, sounds almost new-country from its introduction, before it mellows into the more measured yet relaxing style Weeks has made his own. It’s a lovely little love song, and serenading your significant other or crush can’t possibly go wrong so long as you use this.