Pitchfork-Rejected Reviews Series: “A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out”
Album: A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out
Artist: Panic! at the Disco
Reviewed by: Matt Singer
It’s when we’re at our most hollow, naked and weak that we feel the strangulation of contemporary art’s inability to appreciate compounded and built-upon locution. And as a struggling, lonely animalculum, we so oft find ourselves at a crossroads that presents to us but two options: to forgo the contemporaneous state of conflation that has over-valued brevity, or to drink the proverbial Kool-Aid and denounce beautifully crafted polymerizations of nouns, verbs and adjectives into sprawling phraseology that allows you to embark on a journey to a brave new world.
And with A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out, we, the listeners, see that Panic! at the Disco chose the former of the two, producing a 13-part exploration into pulchritude. It’s a double helix comprised of angst-ridden, literary verses and synth-based sounds that are abrasive, yet polished. It’s the perfect blend of emo and post-production.
The album’s opener, so wittily titled “Introduction” segues into “The Only Difference Between Martyrdom and Suicide is Press Coverage,” which, interestingly, serves as an invitation to re-examine that which is considered to be cool with a more questioning lens that looks beyond the materialistic values propped up before us by quasi-capitalist sophists. It’s timeless, and will undoubtedly serve as anthem for contrarians of generations to come, teaching them to march onward toward the necessary realization of the magnitude of importance of non-conformity and stylized synth beats
And now that we are ready to tear away the veil of pre-conceived notions, Panic! at the Disco challenges one of the most colossal titans of unsubstantiated propaganda the world has ever known: the media. “London Beckoned Songs About Money Written by Machines” is, ostensibly, the most daring commentary on the current shortcomings of the American political media that has ever been written.
Lead singer Brendon Urie throws the gauntlet, challenging the likes of Paul Krugman and Michelle Malkin to a bare-knuckle cagematch to the death.
“Well we’re just a wet dream for the webzines / Make us ‘it,’ make us ‘hip,’ make us ‘scene,’” Urie sings, juxtaposing contemporary notions of cool against his thinly-veiled criticism of the senseless pandering perpetrated by both the political left and right.
“Start talking, ‘a sensationalist,” he continues not soon thereafter, “Oh, he’s slighter clever to just a certain extent.”
This is nothing to say of how Panic! at the Disco locks eyes with the Medusa that is modern notions of love and fidelity in the mid-2000s made manifest. Singing frequently of virgins and their deeds, are we, the listeners, to rethink the subtle, but powerful strides made by post-18th century feminists in Eastern Europe? Are we to stop valuing the tender and innocent and relish in the adulterous norms that now seem incompatible with androsartorial ramblings of a man-centered virile society?
And that’s the recurring theme on A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out: re-evaluation. This isn’t just an album, but rather an instruction manual. It’s an open invitation to shed the blinders imposed upon you by a populous hungry for more ovine subjects.