It Holds Up: Panic! at the Disco – ‘A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out’
Posted: by The Editor
Since their inception, Panic! At The Disco spread like wildfire across the alternative genre. As the members have fallen out over the years, the love for this band still holds strong for many who fell in love with their first record A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out in 2005. As I started jamming with one of my best friends, Jane, we sparked a discussion on this album when thinking about what we listened to in our “youth”. She said, “A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out is my favorite album of all time and I will fight anyone about it”, and for a band’s first big release and debut album, A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out can easily hold that title.
For an album that came out in 2005 and was heavily celebrated by teens and my 5th-grade self, it’s content is definitely on the mature side both sonically and lyrically speaking. The long and winded song titles that don’t make much sense were signature to the allure of A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out Of. Beginning with “Introduction” which feels like a riff off of the beginning to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band simply samples and introduces the album almost like you’re tuning into the album on an old radio. It then dives into one of the catchier songs off of the album “The Only Difference Between Martyrdom and Suicide is Press Coverage,” a track that has lead singer Brendon Urie’s signature range of vocals accompanied by some simple yet groovy guitar riffs and blaring drums. The bridge of the track dives into an auto-tuned, almost 80’s synth sound that dives right back into the rock riffs played in the beginning of the song. It packs the punch to hook you right in with the classics of a catchy and shout-able song to make you want to listen further.
A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out is self-aware. In the next track “London Beckoned Songs About Money Written ByMachines” is lyrically all about how “it’s time for us to take a chance” which is repeated several times in the song. Basically calling out the music industry culture of being a certain image or “playing it safe”, “selling out”, and for Panic! At The Disco, doing their own thing. “Well we’re just a wet dream for the webzines, make us hip, make us it, make us scene” is a satirical critique on how a lot of bands “sell out” so they can be popular. A trope still true today.
Beyond the witty lyrics though, Panic! At The Disco’s songwriting on this record is really unique to the alt-rock genre they’re typically associated with. It has the similar fuzzy guitar riffs and bass lines that were common with the music of this time, but it added these bridges and parts of satirical banter that wasn’t really used before. The song structure was more complex than a punk song, but not quite alongside the indie darlings of the early 2000’s either. Panic! At The Disco carved out their own pocket of sound that made them grow to the level of respect they’re at today.
Some of my favorite tracks including “Nails For Breakfast, Tacks for Snacks”, “Time to Dance” and “There’s a Good Reason Why These Tables Are Numbered You Just Don’t Know It Yet” all of which have their own flavor to them that holds them up as individual tracks, but collectively sound like they belong on the same album. Borrowing synths, acoustic guitars, piano, and other instruments not typical to the alt-rock genre. Panic’s sound on their debut album is not experimental, they knew what they were doing, and knew that the album would sound more align to an epic album than just another alt-rock group. Panic! At The Disco are clearly prolific songwriters, but also wanted this album to be a stand-out record. Something that was all their own, their signature.
Although at times lyrically smart and poking fun at the music industry, it still was heavily about sex and women. “Lying Is The Most Fun A Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off” is entirely about sex. For a group whose audience were primarily teenagers, I’m sure it’s content wasn’t exactly “age appropriate”
Yet it has that connection to what rock was founded on, the blues. Which was all about discussing personal issues, both sexually and romantically. The lyrics are not hiding anything under metaphors or symbols, they’re very direct. “Where’s the love in a lap dance?” being the hook in “But It’s Better If You Do” and “Let’s get these two hearts beating faster” off of “Lying Is the Most Fun a Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off” is extremely upfront and arguably vulnerable. At my ripe age of probably 11 or 12 when I was introduced to this album, or maybe even younger, I was blind to all of the sexual content, and had no idea that I was straight up listening to songs about sex. But yet, Top 40 songs being DJ’d at middle school dances were also not shy of sexually dense lyrics.
So let’s get down to the question of why we may still listen to this album a near 15 years after its release? A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out Of is so much more than an alt-rock album. It’s direct, experimental and above all, super well written. It was a stand-out album amongst the heavy guitars and whiney vocals that was a signature to the alt-rock genre back in 2005. Even now, it’s such a dense album that it passes the test of time, and 100% holds up as one of the best records to ever come out of the early 2000’s.
Written by Sarah Knoll
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