40 Days of Rewind: Panic! at the Disco – A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out (2005)

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When it was first released in 2005 A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out divided critics. Whilst some reviewers raved about the debut album by four up-and-coming teenagers, others slated it; but regardless of the critical indecision the album was a universal commercial success, selling over 2.2 millions copies worldwide. The band were discovered by Pete Wentz, and the album released on his imprint of Fueled By Ramen records, Decaydance, and this link to Wentz meant that P!atD were one of the man bands that were slotted into the ‘mid-2000-emo-band’ category. However, this record was so much more than your standard ‘emo band’ released.

The lyrics, written by former guitarist Ryan Ross, cover a huge array of social themes like alcoholism, mental health, prostitution and adultery. They didn’t shy away from gritty truths, and although some lyrics don’t make total sense, in general they’re far more interesting than anything else coming out of that scene at the time.

I think musically is where this album truly stands alone. With interesting instrumental lines weaving in and out of each other, and clever use of vaudevillian piano and synthesisers, there’s truly intelligent musical writing. The stand out moment for me will always be the pizzicato string opening to ‘I Write Sins Not Tragedies’. Totally unexpected, yet completely captivating, for many, this was the track that drew people to the band. Each time I listen to the album, even now, I notice a different instrumental line or remarkable harmony. The album was often disregarded due to the sub-genre it was part of, but if people look past the labels they’d see that the record is expertly written.

The music videos showcase the weird and wonderful. There are people with fish tanks on their heads in ‘Lying is the Most Fun a Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off’ and the Lucent Dossier Vaudeville Cirque at the carny-wedding themed ‘I Write Sins Not Tragedies’, each video is unique, and often, completely barmy; but although they’re totally bizarre, they work with the music and aesthetic the band were putting out.

You’ll either love A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out or loathe it, there doesn’t seem to be an in-between. Personally, this was the album that really got me into music. I remember playing it hundreds of times in my old CD player (pre-my ipod days), and although it may not have been the most edgy, ‘cool’ album, I truly believe it was one of the best released in the past decade.

A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out was released on September 27th, 2005 via Decaydance/Fueled by Ramen records.

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Cat lady and entertainment journalist. Records Editor 2014-2015 & News Editor 2013-2014 for The Edge.

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