This week, Daily Music Writers are looking back on the first albums they ever loved. Today, Carly Snider remembers Panic! at the Disco’s A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out
I was in fifth grade in the back seat of a car with my friend, her dad at the wheel. As the cultured, mature individuals that we were, we were listening to the alternative radio station. The DJ’s voice petered out, giving way to the playful plucking intro of my then favorite song. Dum dum dum de dum. It was “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” by Panic! at the Disco. I squealed and proceeded to sing every word, as any seasoned music aficionado would.
Panic! was the first musical group that I was just absolutely obsessed with. I have yet to decide if this is something I should admit with shame or confidence, but I continue to profess my love nonetheless. A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out, the emo-pop group’s first album, was the first work that I really immersed myself in. I listened to it constantly — on the bus to and from school, in my room, in the car, in the shower. I knew (and still know) every word to every song. I couldn’t get enough of those eyeliner-wearing, fantastical men.
The Fever tour was my first concert. There were plenty of scantily clad burlesque dancers and sexual innuendos that soared right over my pre-pubescent head. The openers were Jack’s Mannequin and The Plain White T’s — I can just feel early 2000s nostalgia washing over me. The band also painted their faces to look like ventriloquist dummies and were clad in circus-related outfits, an homage to their hit “I Write Sins Not Tragedies.” It was ridiculous and it was great. They knew exactly what they wanted their image to be and they held nothing back.
A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out is kind of campy and plays on the narrative structure of the tracks — each tells a story with a specific tone. Love, lust, drugs, violence and betrayal all come up somewhere in the album, making the work one of intrigue and danger (especially for my impressionable young mind). It was probably some of my earliest exposure to music that attempted to bend genre. Fever strayed away from the conventions of its pop punk counterparts, using more electronic and theatrical elements. Including an “Introduction” and an “Intermission,” the work plays like a performance — a cabaret show, perhaps. One of the most striking elements of the album, something that continues to impress me, is lead singer Brendon Urie’s voice. He sounds like Adam Lambert and Patrick Stump had a theatrically angst-ridden lovechild.
Though obviously not the most well-crafted and articulate piece of history, A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out will always hold a special place in my artful archive of musical treasures. I have yet to experience another album that was able to replicate the sense of being that Fever gave me. Panic! went on to change their sound on following albums, leaving me to perpetually return to Fever whenever I feel the need to relive to my 10-year-old passions, the first time I dipped my toes into the ocean of the music available to me.