A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out is the debut album from Panic! At The Disco. Released in 2005, the band’s members were only 18 years old when they wrote and recorded Fever. Despite their youth, the album became a snapshot of the pop-punk-emo era of the time, and to this day P!ATD is one of the hottest groups around. What’s to be found within Fever that’s made it so legendary?
A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out is notable for being split in two stylistic halves. While the tracks leading up through Intermission carry an electro-dance vibe, the album’s back half features more traditional punk-rock stylings, with a touch of baroque theatrics.
That said, Fever manages to balance the best of both worlds. Songs like The Only Difference Between Martyrdom And Suicide Is Press Coverage rightfully incorporate electric synthesizers with the classic pop-punk treatment, while There’s A Good Reason These Tables Are Numbered, Honey, You Just Haven’t Thought Of It Yet perfectly demonstrates the band’s ability to work with swing-style rock and make it blend well with the album’s other styles. Mix all of that with sentence-long song titles and unconventional song formulas, and you’ve got a recipe for a 40-minute exotic trip of an album.
Fever’s lyrics are also top-notch, and for them to have been written by a then-18-year-old puts any of my writing to shame (the band’s members had just graduated high school when they recorded Fever). Dealing with themes such as adultery, mental illness, violence, and marriage, Fever leaps way beyond the years of those who wrote and recorded it. The closing song, Build God, Then We’ll Talk, brings the lyrical thematics full circle, bringing a tale of prostitution and bribery to fruition.
However, it’s not a masterpiece. Though Nails For Breakfast, Tacks For Snacks and Camisado are some fan-favorites within the P!ATD community, I found them to be the slower tracks on the album, despite their budding lyrical content. With that in mind, the pacing within Fever doesn’t quite feel uniform, even with its outright dividing of the two stylistic halves with an instrumental track titled “Intermission”. While individual tracks hold their own gems of wit, as a collective entity the album could use some ironing and polish. But, for a ragtag group of high school graduates that created one of the most recognizable pop-punk hits of the past decade, I won’t hold that against them.
Perhaps their most famous single, I Write Sins Not Tragedies, the track hits early on in the album’s second half, segueing directly after But It’s Better If You Do. While this transition helps to provide a seamless listen between the two songs, Sins still suffers from standing out so starkly in comparison to the other tracks strictly based on its massive popularity. Its success is merited – Sins has some of the best riffs and vocals on the entire album – but its virtue also proves to be its vice. As a result of mass radio and web exposure, Sins loses the hard impact that it could’ve had as a facet of the album as a whole.
For a debut album, Fever manages to overcome its shortcomings and deliver a showstopping, if not flawed experience in pop-punk. Once I got over the slowness of some of its early tracks, I found myself enamored with the dance-club beats and swing-style instrumentals.
Largely in part to its most famous single, I Write Sins Not Tragedies, A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out was able to mesh with the successes of other similar bands at the time, like Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance.
Fever would go on to sell over two million records and peak at #13 on the US Billboard 200. Rolling Stone ranked the album at #39 among the “40 Greatest Emo Albums Of All Time”, citing the band’s debut effort as “a snapshot of where ‘emo’ was at in 2005.”
The band credits Fall Out Boy (from which bassist Pete Wentz originally discovered the band’s demos and signed them to his label) for their rise to stardom after Fever: “I remember buying Fall Out Boy records not too long ago," former Panic! drummer Spencer Smith said in 2005. "We get to talk to them every day now. That's really weird, but it's awesome at the same time."
Ryan Ross, the band’s former guitarist, also found inspiration on the album’s dichotomous sound. “The stuff earlier on is a lot of dance-influenced, so dance music in general. The second half is more theatrical stuff, like movie soundtracks and musicals,” Ross said in an interview with Driven Far Off. “I guess the melody stuff would be from bands like Third Eye Blind and Counting Crows, stuff like that.
Panic! At The Disco’s most recent album, Death Of A Bachelor, released in January of 2016. It is the band’s first album to reach #1 on the Billboard Hot 200, and also fetched the band their first Grammy nomination for Best Rock Album.
Currently, frontman Brendon Urie is the only official member of the band. Rounding out the touring lineup are bassist Dallon Weekes, drummer Dan Pawlovich, and guitarist Kenneth Harris. The band has been massively touring throughout 2016 in support of the album, with plans to continue throughout 2017.
Next week’s album: Sum 41’s “Does This Look Infected?”