Features, Friday Night Dinner Discussions

Panic! At The Disco’s Pretty Odd: A Discussion

One fateful evening in 2012, kismet pulled Reina and Gauraa into a porch conversation about Bishop Allen. They realized, despite having grown up 8,657 miles apart, they had listened to the same records, subscribed to the same podcasts and shared the same pretensions. Separated by distance again, the two have decided to pull all the stops necessary to preserve their insular culture of staying in and overanalyzing music. You can read their first dinner discussion here. Tonight, Reina and Gauraa cancel their plans to discuss one of the records that brought them together, Panic! At The Disco’s 2008 release, Pretty. Odd.

pretty odd

Gauraa: Reina, are we still doing that thing where we pretend to lead more exciting lives than we actually do? Because I was too busy playing catch up with my deadlines to actually make Friday night plans, let alone swindle my way out of them.

Reina:  I know what you mean. I wish I could lead even a pretend exciting life. But if I had time for shit like that, I would’ve gotten more sleep this week. I was busy playing catch up with all of the aspirations I had for myself for the week. I guess the only plans I cancelled were plans to make plans. Anyway, all exciting plans aside, let’s talk about Pretty. Odd. What is it about this album that warrants a discussion over Friday Night Dinner?

Gauraa: Well, let me preface this discussion by telling our readers a little story: it was freshman year. The city was Syracuse. I was seventeen, Reina was nineteen. And it just so happened that the only place willing to sell us minors alcohol was a mile away. So we’d walk in the blizzarding cold for our 4 Loko fix, mainly because we were idiots and our priorities were misplaced in this specific order: alcohol, not dying from hypothermia. On one of said 4 Loko runs, Reina and I got caught up in the rain, and out of nowhere, suddenly, I found myself reflexively bursting into “Northern Downpour.” Reina, being my macabre and somber wondertwin, immediately picked up the thread and sang the chorus.  It was kind of an elated “Jinx! You owe me a sing-along!” moment. I mean,  Panic! At The Disco had already been a huge band, but somehow knowing a song off Pretty. Odd. (that wasn’t “Nine in the Afternoon”) was different, more nuanced, almost. I remember the first thing we did when we got back to my room, before we even changed out of our wet clothes, or cranked open our 4 Loko cans, was put on Pretty. Odd. We sang along to every word, from start to finish. It was an instant bond. I suppose that’s the ultimate trademark of a concept album: its recognition as a united package and its ability to unite people with the mood that it creates.

Reina: It’s almost like we bonded over the fact that we didn’t know that many people who knew the album, or something, you know? Like you said, it was kind of rare to find someone who knew a Pretty. Odd “deep-cut” in a manner of speaking. I remember us singing along at the top of our lungs that night, but oddly enough, I can’t remember if we talked about the album at all. We’ve been listening to this album for so long, but have we ever taken a moment to really talk about it? I feel like I’ve had conversations with everyone, trying to figure out what the lyrics mean and trying to learn these songs on guitar, but I don’t recall ever really comprehending what it all meant. And I mean, I still listen to this album and sing along to all the songs, but I still don’t feel like I completely understand what it all means.

Gauraa: It’s kind of strange, actually. I don’t think it does mean anything. Sure, on a sonic level, Panic! At The Disco draw from Pet Sounds or Sgt. Pepper. But there isn’t much to sink your teeth into once that initial surface is scratched. I mean, we often forget that these guys were younger (and infinitely higher) than us when they wrote this album, so it’d be unfair to expect anything other than playground philosophy. I also find that what primarily brings us back to these albums we grew up listening to every Friday is nostalgia. Pretty. Odd. isn’t dissimilar in that sense, but somehow  it’s an outlier because it’s a sort of rootless nostalgia, no? I feel bereft of any other major memory associated to it.

Reina: I mean, if anything, what keeps us coming back to this album are the exaggerated memories that we associate with it. I feel like the moments that I spent sharing this album with another person are so much more important to me than the countless times that I listened and sang along with the album alone in my car.

Gauraa: It’s kind of like hankering for the moment, or rather, the memory of the moment that’s associated with the music, instead of hankering for the music itself.

“We’re So Starving”

Profound Genius annotation: Despite the band line-up change between A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out and Pretty. Odd. (Bassist Brent Wilson was replaced with Jon Walker); they claim to have the same chemistry as if changing a band member is no big deal.

Best lyric: “We’re so sorry we’ve been gone/ We were busy writing songs for you”

Gauraa: “You don’t have to worry ‘cause we’re still the same band.” And thus begins this 2008 psychedelic adventure. A heavy undertow pulling from below A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out. Was this song being ironic? It’s hard to tell, really, but I recall someone comparing this to Cheap Tricks’ “Hello There.” And I wouldn’t disagree.

Reina: *sigh* Another one of those continuous albums that I love so much. The transition from this song to the next is so seamless, it kind of feels like a stream of consciousness.Pretty. Odd was an album out of left field, a complete 180 from the sexy and sultry aesthetic of A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out. Listening to this album for the first time, I needed to be reminded that they were still the same band, even if it wasn’t totally true. 

Gauraa: They really weren’t the same band though. And they’d never be again. This album made A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out and all its preserved grooms and their respective whore wives embarrassing. Also: the band’s lineup has been altering ever since the release of Pretty. Odd. But a little faith, wrapped up in a sunny intro track, never hurt anyone.

Reina: I guess since A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out, Brendon Urie and Ryan Ross cleansed themselves of their sins and were reborn with Pretty. Odd, the sophomore album equivalent of a born again Christian.

Gauraa: Then he moved on to exclusively writing tragedies–sorry, um, I meant Vices and Virtues. But that’s a story for another time. But, um, are we going to have to repent for calling a psychedelic, shrooms-alluding album a born again Christian?

Reina: Nice use of religious jargon. I don’t know about that, but what I do know is that I miss albums like these that start with an intro, welcoming you into the strange conceptual world of a band that plays an adult version of dress-up.

Gauraa: Ah, the good ol’ days of Fueled By Ramen complex (unorthodox?) masterpieces. I miss them too.

“Nine in the Afternoon”

Profound (Verified) Genius annotation: The title came from our drummer, Spencer Smith—we were high and he was like, “Yeah, I don’t know what time it is but it feels like nine in the afternoon.” And we just thought that was hilarious, and after cracking up for 20 minutes that became the hook for this song.

Best lyric: “Because it’s nine in the afternoon/ Your eyes are the size of the moon/ You’re good cause you can, so you do”

Gauraa: I have to admit: I feel conned. I spent a huge chunk of my early teens rummaging in vain for a Lewis Carroll explanation to this song. How did I not know? Mushrooms! Of course!

Reina: God, I realize how naive I was for thinking this song was innocently about having fun and being imaginative. Well, I mean it is about those things, but a state of heightened fun and imagination when “your eyes are the size of the moon.”

Gauraa: It’s absurd. I spent countless hours pouring over every single word on this album but not once did it occur to me to examine it from the standpoint of a psychedelic experience. I suppose that, in part, is the beauty of it, no? I’m not proposing that there is a deeper, profound meaning to “Nine in the Afternoon” as much as I’m acknowledging it as a fairy story narrative: there are two harmless ways of looking at it, each equally colorful. For those of us left in the dark, in the vast darkness of emo cyberspace, this was our Sgt Pepper’s and Pet Sounds all wrapped up in one.

Reina: That’s so true. In many ways, I feel like this album was something of a gateway to different kinds of music too. In middle school, I was deep into pop punk, and when this came out, I realized that there’s a whole world of music out there that I haven’t yet seen or heard. It kind of opened the doors for me to be able to let Animal Collective, and all the other artists I probably never would have listened to, into my life.

Gauraa: That’s true. And I think that’s true of pop-punk as a genre itself. If I’d never listened to Good Charlotte’s “Riot Girl,” I would’ve never fallen into my Minor Threat/Social Distortion phase, I don’t think. But, um, coming back to “Nine in the Afternoon” though, there’s something very hopeful and sunny about a song that begins with a sprightly piano line and a line like, “Back to the street where we began/ Feeling as good as lovers can, you know.” Panic! At The Disco made nine in the afternoon feel like the safest time to be alive, like a cavernous escape from the world. And when you hear the horn section, the trumpets blowing in the background of the chorus, the transformation is complete. You “know what they mean.”

Reina: But in the middle of this seemingly hopeful and sunny song, there’s this sense that they are hyper aware that outside of this place where it’s nine in the afternoon they’re “losing the feeling of feeling unique.” There’s this yearning to get back to that place, where they can get lost and caught up in just feelin’ good.

Gauraa: Yeah, kind of like it recognizes the threat of “losing the feeling of feeling unique” outside the room. But what I like most about “Nine in the Afternoon” is that it puts forth a version of Wonderland that’s accessible–it’s not quite a place as much as it is a feeling: “you’re good ‘cause you can so you do.” It’s knowing that you could escape the ordinariness and walk down a street where you feel as good as lovers do.

Reina: It’s also knowing that you can escape your insecurities about not being unique or creative into a room where thoughts can bloom.

Gauraa: And, hey, if you can’t, worry not: there’s more psychotropical fungus where this song came from. Trip till your eyes are as wide as the moon.

“She’s A Handsome Woman”

Profound Genius annotation: Everything is going wrong while he’s trying to collect all of the lies he’s told and get them straight.

Best lyric: “The sky is falling off the ceiling/ While I’m tucking fibs into a cookie jar

Reina: I love the word “handsome.” It’s so much more elegant and classy than “hot” or “pretty.” People my parents’ age call people “handsome,” you know? I feel like it takes more to call someone “handsome”, since it’s not really a word that comes naturally.

Gauraa: When I hear the phrase “handsome woman,” I immediately picture Alex Borstein.

Reina: When I think of a “handsome” woman, I think of a woman that is pretty, yes, but not like conventional cover girl pretty. More fierce and strong, like Tilda Swinton, or that actress that plays Brienne of Tarth on Game of Thrones.

Gauraa: But in light of this song, a “handsome” woman is less of a woman, really, and more of a forest creature. Take, for example: “Looking lived in, eating buttons/ Wink, just don’t put your teeth on me.” “Handsome,” here, seems more like a euphemism for homely.

Reina: I see that. “Looking lived-in” especially seems to point to homely.

Gauraa: I remember specifically being so taken in with the descriptions in this song, particularly the pairing of “sheepish wolves” and the strange visual of “tucking fibs into a cookie jar.” I almost didn’t want to delve into its many metaphorical possibilities because no figurative interpretation could be nearly interesting enough to compare to the image of a hangdog wolf in a kitchen.

Reina: ”While I’m tucking fibs into a cookie jar” is my favorite line too. And you’re right, it’s hard to dissect any of the lines in this song because honestly, who knows what the fuck they were on when they wrote this song? Who knows if they really intended for there to be a deeper meaning to any of these lyrics? But as far as cookie jars go, I think we can all agree we all grew up knowing that it’s something you’re not supposed to touch unless you’re told you can. In that sense, it’s the perfect place to hide a fib, or anything else for that matter.

Gauraa: There’s this interview with Jorge Luis Borges I read recently, wherein a journalist asks him what he meant by a particular phrasing and he said something along the lines of, “I could’ve explained it and have said it simply but then it would be saying something else, no? It sounds better the way I said it.” And I think that makes so much sense when you think of it in terms of lyrical and musical phrasing, too. As much fun as I have dissecting lyrics with you every Friday night, I think it’s important to acknowledge that these lyrical fragments make sense with their musical phrasings, and not too much when removed from them. A lot of songs on Pretty. Odd. sound gorgeously poetic but when you pull them out and try to make sense of them, they don’t give you the same kind of satisfaction.

Reina: Yeah, I’ll be honest here and admit that all the times I’ve listened to this album, I’ve never given a whole lot of thought to the lyrics themselves. I have the CD in my car and yes, I know all the words because I sing along to it almost everyday, but at the same time, I’m not really comprehending the lyrics outside of their musical context. By that I mean, I’m not sitting there analyzing what’s being said and why. Everything this album makes me feel is because of the way it’s presented as a package, rather than any of the elements individually, I think.

Gauraa: Exactly. And I get the feeling that it’s been written spontaneously, too, more focused on “creating a mood” as opposed to getting a point or message across. There’s a specific listening experience from when I was fifteen that has stuck with me. Halfway through “When The Day Met The Night,” I began to try and “interpret” the song. And I remember feeling like I’d missed the point.

“ Do You Know What I’m Seeing”

Profound Genius annotation: According to Ross it is “a song about the weather pretty much.”

Best lyric: I know it’s sad that I never gave a damn about the weather/ And it never gave a damn about me

Gauraa: Right out of the Salinger songbook, this one: “Poets are always taking the weather so personally! They’re always sticking their emotions in things that have no emotions!”

Reina: I love how they were somehow able to capture drifting and marching at the same time, if that makes sense. There’s this strumming that you could march along with, but also an airy guitar layered over it that seems like it’s almost floating. And when the words come in, the phrasing and wording is very rhythmic, but the melody kind of drifts up and down the scale without a care.

Gauraa: There’s a delicate finesse in the orchestration of Pretty. Odd. It’s witty and conservant, with the rich and contrasting layers of a french dessert. And at all times, there are at least about four different things going on in each song. Moving parts, schisms, that somehow work together to give the sound a comprehensive feel. “Do You Know What I’m Seeing,” for example, has this peculiarly  processional guitar, as you mentioned. There are melancholy strings that whine for a bucolic loneliness. And just when it’s least expected, the song soars into chorus with an accordion, only to twist and turn again as Brendon Urie manically questions, “I know it’s mad/ But if I go to hell/ Will you come with me or just leave?” It’s very Pet Sounds in that respect.

Reina: I wonder if people would hate us if we called this “art rock,” because like you said, it’s very Pet Sounds especially in the sense that a lot of their songs have different segments? Or different sections and motifs that it transitions in and out of unexpectedly, while making it all sound completely natural.

Gauraa: People will hate us for calling a Fueled By Ramen release anything other than pop-punk. But that’s on them.

“That Green Gentleman (Things Have Changed)”

Profound Genius annotation: The title is a typical quirky reference to marijuana, one of the many substances the band members used in their youth, and during the creation of A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out and Pretty. Odd..

Best lyric: Little deaths in musical beds/ So it seems I’m someone I’ve never met”

Gauraa: “Things are shaping up to be pretty odd.” Yes, tell ‘em, Urie! “The Green Gentleman” was the third single released off Pretty. Odd. and it’s undoubtedly one the of the catchiest songs on the album. I’d say, vocally, though much more relaxed, it’s the closest thing Brendon’s delivered to A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out.

Reina: God, this song just puts me in such a good mood. I love the bells that ring in the background. I actually just noticed them for the first time. It’s incredible how with all of the songs on this album, no matter how many times you’ve listened to this album through, you still seem to hear something new every time. Like you mentioned before, there are so many intricate layers to every song and I love how different details reveal themselves with every listen.

Gauraa: It’s also probably worth mentioning that I had no idea that the “Green Gentleman” was an allusion to marijuana. Apparently, you don’t realize how sheltered your youth was until you’re looking back at your favorite baroque pop Fueled By Ramen records.

Reina: I always thought this album was so much more innocent compared to the sultry and kind of sexy sounds of A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out, but I’m realizing now that this album is mature in a completely different way. It’s rife with these elements that seem purely whimsical at first thought, but paired with an understanding of just how much their mind-states were altered, it becomes clear that most of this whimsy was born out of a drug-addled state. But that said, so many songs that are cherished today (see: The Beatles’ discography) were probably written in a drug-addled state.

“I Have Friends In Holy Spaces”

Profound Genius annotation: Personally, I think that since Pretty. Odd. is for the most part a drug album, that this song is also talking about drugs and his “famous friends” are not people.

Best lyric: “You remind me of a few of my famous friends

Gauraa: Give it up for the Mount Charleston Rhythm Kings! Alright, but in all seriousness, despite the “clever” lyrics and the overdubbed horns and the feeble nod to the swinging ‘20s, “I Have Friends In Holy Spaces” makes perfect sense on the tracklist. It subtly pulls Panic! back into pop-punk with its “loaded god complex” lyricality. There’s a sense of narcissism that’s embodied by Urie’s narrative (we’ll continue to catch glimpses of this in “Pas De Cheval,” “The Piano Knows Something I don’t Know” and “She Had The World”). And it keeps things entertaining.

Reina: And if you think about this album as playing out like a movie, especially an old movie that you could see in a movie theatre, this song kind of acts as an intermission. If this album were a movie, this is the part where they would be changing the reels. And there is kind of a subtle difference between the half of the album before and after this song. Even the writing process for this song makes it sound like it was written in an “intermission” during a writing session for another song. So it’s kind of an interlude in two fold. And a very welcome interlude at that. I love this song.

“Northern Downpour”

Profound Genius annotation: His girl says to him that she’s shocked there are no geniuses in America. They are all either foreign, perverted or misguided, or dead.

Best lyric: “And then she said she can’t believe/ Genius only comes along in storms of fabled foreign tongues/ Tripping eyes and flooded lungs”

Gauraa: “Northern Downpour” is my favorite song off Pretty. Odd. It’s quietly wondrous. Politely charming. Perfect in its bare presentation. Lyrically surreal: “Through playful lips made of yarn/ That fragile Capricorn/ Unraveled words like moths upon old scarves.” Hey moon don’t forget to fall down. What is this song about, if not celestial latitude?

Reina: This is one of my favorites as well! Well I love the combined effect of this song and the next song as a unit, but this song definitely has it’s charm. Everything about it is perfect. The way it starts out with just acoustic guitar and Brendon’s voice and builds up different layers one by one. The harmony when they sing “Sugarcane in the easy morning/Weather vanes my one and lonely.” The dreamy lyrics. I think it’s crazy how versatile Ryan’s voice can be, in terms of writing.

Gauraa: I also love how Ryan’s raw vocals complement Brendon’s. It’s the perfect contrast.

Reina: Jesus, I love that section towards the end where three different lyrical and melodic patterns are layered on top of each other. There’s so much to be said about this song, but I don’t think anything we say can even start to touch on the grandiosity of this song. What more can we say about this song that could do it justice, Gauraa? 

Gauraa: Melt your headaches, call it home.

“When The Day Met The Night”

Profound Genius annotation: This analogy works two ways: It can be seen as the two polar opposite people falling in love but also as the literal moon and sun meeting.

Best lyric:  “When the sun found the moon/ She was  drinking tea in a garden/ Under the green umbrella trees/ In the middle of summer”

Gauraa: The chorus of this song is one of my favorite things ever.  The horn section makes it sound so grand. Also, you know, it’s crazy but the very beginning of this song reminds me of the end of Pink Floyd’s “Bike.”

Reina: This song is like Panic! At The Disco’s Beatles’ in India moment. I hate that I described it that way because I love this song so much, but the sitar at the beginning? I mean, it works but also seems a tad bit unnecessary? I love how the beginning of the song, before the sitar, sounds like that moment when an orchestra is tuning and fooling around before the actual show starts. Almost like this song in itself is like a performance, which, well, it is one of the more narrative driven songs on the album. And yes, the horns! The horns make this song perfect.

Gauraa: You know it’s strange, I never noticed the sitar before. I kind of assumed it was a heavily treated guitar. In terms of lyrical profundity, we could say this song is about two opposing forces of nature coming together in golden harmony but that wouldn’t sound nearly as romantic as “All was golden in the sky/ As the day met the night.”

Reina: I love that imagery. I mean, it is a little bit cliché given that the sun/moon love story has been done before, but this take is a little bit different and gives each character a personality, which I like. I love the image of drinking tea in a garden under green umbrella trees.

Gauraa: In the middle of summer.

Reina: In the middle of winter would probably be a whole different song.

Gauraa: Brendon, Ryan, if you’re reading this, this would be a great time for Pretty. Odd. Vol II featuring a sequel song titled “In the Middle of Winter.”

Reina: Featuring songs like: “From a Cabin in the Middle of the Ski Resort,” “Ten in the Afternoon,” and “When the Winter Met the Spring.”

Gauraa: I love you. This is why we’re friends.

“Pas De Cheval”

Profound Genius annotation: The speaker is saying to imagine knowing him personally, and that it would be amazing to know him, which shows that he knows he’s an amazing person to know

Best lyric: “It’s the greatest thing that’s yet to have happened/ Imagine knowing me/ But you’ll never know until you’re there”

Gauraa: Oh god. This song. In the eighth grade, my friend Jennifer and I use to console ourselves with that ego-feeding line, “It’s the greatest thing you’ll ever imagine/ Imagine knowing me” whilst coping with the protracted thrill of a new crush. I didn’t know this before but a “pas de cheval” literally means “a horse’s step” and the drums in the song create that kind of stride. It’s so perfect. The horns really breathe another dimension into “Pas De Cheval,” huh? It’s also very Beach Boys in the way it oohs and aahs.

Reina: The alternating guitar strumming also gives it a trotting kind of rhythm. Or, well, I guess it’s more of a gallop. I feel like this song is the most rock sounding of all the songs on the album, complete with a brief guitar solo towards the end. Especially at the very end of the song, I can imagine the band on stage all banging out the last notes in unison with the drums, timing it just right, the way I’ve seen older rock bands end their songs.

“The Piano Knows Something I Don’t Know”

Profound Genius annotation: “Statues on the shelf” are a reference to the practice of placing penates, or household gods, on the mantle in a Roman home before the Romans largely accepted the Greek pantheon of gods and goddesses we know today. Basically, he’s worshiping himself as god of his own household.

Best lyric: “If I could build my house just like a trojan horse/ I’d build a statue of myself upon the shelf/ Of course”

Gauraa: A flugelhorn. Yes. Of course. That’s it. I love the dramatic opera bouffe melodramaticism of this song. I mean, if there was one thing missing before, it was the presence of a trojan horse. It was inevitable, really.

Reina: When I was in high school, I was obsessed with hair. And my friend said this should be my song because I treated my hair like it was made of “fancy flowers” but I don’t think she really listened to this song. (In case you were wondering, we later settled on “This is Your Life” by The Killers as my song. Please see the line, “no one gives a damn about her hair.”) I do love this song though. Especially that line, “She’s the smoke/She’s dancing fancy pirouettes/Swan diving off of the deep end/Of my tragic cigarette.” I can just see the smoke dancing off a cigarette hanging out of Brendon’s mouth as he sits at a piano peddling his (well, Ryan’s) nonsensical tales.

Gauraa: That is a fantastic line. Pretty. Odd. had some really interesting, surrealistic lyrical moments. It’s a shame Ryan left, though, because have you heard any of Brendon’s standalone lyrics off recent Panic! At The Disco albums? Allow me to elucidate. Exhibit A: “Hey, stranger, I want you to catch me like a cold/ You and god both got the guns, when you shoot I think I’d duck.” Exhibit B: “I led the revolution in my bedroom I led the revolution in my bedroom and I set all the zippers free/ We said, ‘No more war, no more clothes!’”

Reina: Meanwhile, Ryan was writing things like, “Leave the past out to pasture/And take the days as they come/And leave the sand in a suitcase so we don’t forget the fun.” What a shame, really.

“Behind The Sea”

Profound Genius annotation: He thinks that he is too smart. He knows better than to think that a God would waste time with him. He doubts one exists anyway.

Best lyric: And we’re all too small/ To talk to God/ Yes, we’re all too smart/To talk to God

Gauraa: Everything about Ryan Ross singing “like bobbing bait for bathing cod” in doubled vocals is magical. Everything about this song is magical–the seamless harmonies, the handclaps. Even the deep “ah-oh” that punctuates the song is perfectly placed, like a human bass. And I love how visual this song is, too: “Floating flocks of candled swans/ Slowly drift across wax ponds.” It’s definitely very Beatles-y. Whether they decide to acknowledge or not, it’s very much “inspired.” But even as an “inspired” piece of work, it stands poised independent from it.

Reina:  Definitely very Beatles-y. It was kind of a taste of what was to come with The Young Veins, which was also very Beatles inspired. But I don’t know if anything Ryan writes will ever be able to match up to “Behind the Sea.” I love that part where he goes from saying “We’re all too small to talk to God” to “We’re all too smart to talk to God.” I remember this was one of the first albums that I bonded with friends over. We tried so hard to make sense of what was being said and even though we never did get to the bottom of it, none of us could deny that whatever he was saying, he was saying it well.

“Folkin’ Around”

Profound Genius annotation: His ex has left him and is doing things that her father would find questionable. This could indicate she is sleeping around.

Best lyric: And by the time your father’s heard of all the wrong you’ve done/ Then I’m putting out the lantern find your own way back home

Gauraa: What would Pretty. Odd. be without a country folk song about a ruthless heartbreaker, anyway? Strings are traded in for harmonicas, the summer is coming to an and. He’s kind of an asshole in this song, though, isn’t he? I mean, considering Pretty.Odd. is more of a concept album centered around mood rather than plot, I wonder if the narrative on this album is a steady character. Or whether it’s actually the same narrative from “Lying is the Most Fun A Girl Could Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off.” I mean, “Then I’m putting out the lantern find your own way back home” is in the same vein, is it not?

Reina: Maybe Brendon Urie is just an asshole.

Gauraa: I think him being an asshole is plausible. Most Brendons are.

Reina:  I do love that line, “Allow me to exaggerate a memory or two.” It’s such a simple statement, but at the same time so accurate. All we ever do is exaggerate memories. Especially when you’re telling the story to someone else.

Gauraa: And then the story becomes an improvised, exaggerated memory itself.

Reina: “And I’ll even have the courtesy of admitting I was wrong/As the final words before I’m dead and gone.” Oh Brendon, all I can think is that you’re stubborn and proud. Admitting that you’re wrong about something is not really a courtesy, but more like, I don’t know, the correct thing to do. At least for people who understand what it means to be “courteous.”

“She Had The World”

Profound Genius annotation: He took a young, innocent, love stricken girl and broke her heart.

Best lyric: But I’m sure I didn’t ruin her/ Just made her more interesting

Gauraa: “She said she won the world/ At a carnival/ But she could never win me.” All set to an orchestration complete with a harpsichord. It’s almost ironically fanciful. I mean, “I don’t love you, I’m just passing the time” is quite the way to break a heart.

Reina:  *sigh* This song. “I’m sure I didn’t ruin her/Just made her more interesting” kills me. How self-involved do you have to be to think, well, I might have broken her heart, but she’s fine. She’s more interesting now. This is like that movie trope, where there’s a character madly in love with another, but one says “I’m no good for you, nobody can love me.” It’s also kind of like dating in the Tinder age.

Gauraa: An ex once told me, after we had been broken up for over a year, that I’m “more interesting now” and it’s all because of him. So, I’d say very self-involved.

Reina:  Ugh, fuck that. I love this song, but also fuck the message in this song. True, we might become more interesting when we get our hearts broken, but that’s no reason to justify or even brag about breaking hearts and taking names. 

“From a Cabin in the Middle of the Mountains”

Profound Genius annotation: Words are the torturous things.

Best lyric: “Go spin circles for me/ Wound relentlessly/ Around the words we used to sling”

Gauraa: So, alright, the band were actually recording in a cabin in the middle of the mountains. That’s fine. But that still doesn’t quite explain any number of things that have conspired in this song. It’s perfectly catchy, it’s just that, like, why does a drug farm entrepreneur have feathers everywhere?

Reina: I don’t know why, but the beginning of this song was always a little bit unsettling to me. The image of a woman lying there crying with feathers everywhere, saying “it’s fine, you do this all the time.” I always imagined her as a kind of angel, a fallen angel I guess, that’s lonely and trapped in an unfulfilling love affair with a drug farm entrepreneur. I always loved/hated the image of a “rusted smile”. It’s kind of a tragic, gut-wrenching image if you think about it.  

Gauraa: It’s true. A rusted smile implies a perishing happiness. Denial, almost.

Reina: And also a sense of neglect, I think. Things get rusty if you leave them out in the rain and don’t really take good care of them.

“Mad as Rabbits”

Profound Genius annotation: Most of this album was written while they were high, so this may be a nonsense lyric.

Best lyric: Rope hung his other branch/ And at the end was a dog called Bambi/ Who was chewing on his parliaments

Gauraa: I like this song placed as the ending more than I liked it placed as the second single. “We must reinvent love” is just the right amount of grandiosity an album like this needs as its final note.

Reina: You might have noticed that throughout this conversation, I’ve been stuck on thinking about this album like it’s a movie or a show. Following that idea, this would be the song that plays during the end credits, but the part of the credits that is still cinematic. Does that make sense? I feel like this song is the perfect culmination of everything that’s happened. And you’re right, it’s just grandiose enough to wrap it all up.

Gauraa: His arms were the branches of a Christmas tree/ Preached the devil in the belfry/ He checked in to learn his clothes had been thieved/ At the train station.” I’m not sure if this song’s worth treading between the lines for lyrical subtext.

Reina: That’s kind of the general conclusion I’ve come to with this album. I feel like we’re mad as rabbits for trying to analyze this album in any way other than a surface level examination of how the songs make us feel. Melodically and instrumentally and even lyrically, it is compelling, yes, and yet neither of us seem to be able to put a finger on what specifically makes us feel a certain way. It’s like you said at the beginning, this album and all the songs within it are somewhat of a package, and to try and isolate individual elements and analyze them on their own is a little unproductive.

Gauraa: It’s a little sad and frustrating, really, because I remember this album being significantly better when it came out in 2008. But that’s ok, I’m sure we’ll have better luck next Friday night discussing a certain 2005 Buena Vista/Hollywood Records release. Take it away, Reina. Do the honors. “Come clean.”

Reina: …and the album we’ll be discussing next Friday night and potentially ruining for ourselves is…Hilary Duff’s Metamorphosis! There may be tears, there may be disappointment, where our feelings will go, nobody knows.

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Reina and Gauraa did not expect for it to be such an emotional Friday night. They insist they need to be alone now. You can find them here next Friday, getting emotional over Hilary Duff’s Metamorphosis.

August 19, 2016

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