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My Favorite Album From Middle School: An Updated Review

I would love to tell you that I have been a fan of 'good' music my entire life, but this would be a bold faced lie. Yes, I listened to Prince and Bowie and Zeppelin with my parents, but I never appreciated it the way that I do now. Hootie and the Blowfish was my favorite band as a child and I kept a Green Day CD in my dresser until I started high school. In middle school, I asked for an iPod shuffle so that I could have every All American Rejects CD in one place. Today, I'm snotty and pretentious about what music I listen to and plan on writing about it as a career. But being humble shows personal growth, and I wasn't always as specific about what I listened to as I am today. At this point, I like to pretend the music I loved in middle school doesn't exist, but I think it's time to revisit some old classics and write a review on my favorite album from way back when.

A lot of great albums came out between the years 2006-2009. MGMT's Oracular Spectacular, LCD Soundsystem's Sound of Silver, Raidiohead's famous and iconic In Rainbows, Animal Collective's Strawberry Jam, and Kayne's 808 and Heartbreak, just to name a few. I did not listen to these albums in middle school. I did not even know about these albums until, at least, my freshman year of high school. Instead, I preferred the musical stylings of Panic! At The Disco, Fall Out Boy, and Death Cab For Cutie. I am unashamed, and occasionally turn my Spotify music session on 'private' and listen to some of my old favorites in solitude. My favorite album from these years was, without a doubt, Pretty. Odd, by Panic! At The Disco. I used to eat lunch in the art room and listen to it instead of socializing. I would like to tell my younger self that this becomes normal once you start college. I still love this album, and I have the 7-year-old burnt CD of it in my car. Today, I dusted it off for another listen.

Pretty. Odd begins with a song of explanation in 'We're So Starving', with lead singer Brenden Urie crooning to his fans an apology for the three year hiatus that Panic! took between debut album A Fever You Can't Sweat Out and Pretty! Odd. The tone is sweet, cheerful, and sincere. Much different from the moody and dramatic circus themed first album, but I digress. The new sound is so melodic that the 'emo' me instantly forgives the band for leaving me without explanation and welcomes in a new sound. Maybe I should stop wearing my studded belt to school. It rips holes in my band t-shirts from Hot Topic and weighs down my jeans. Is emo over? It's about time I change my look, anyway.

The popular 'Nine In The Afternoon' is up next, and is the first single that Panic! released before the new album came out in full. I purchased this on iTunes for $1.29 using a gift card that I got for christmas and listened to it on repeat using the family computer. Can you blame me? Online streaming wasn't a thing yet and the harmonies and peppy drum beat in this track, specifically, opened my eyes to a new type of music that I had never experienced before. Today, I would confidently compare it's sound to the Beatles after they started using LSD, but in 2008, the exclamation I probably used was: 'XD'. It was a simpler time.

The album continues with organic and mellow tracks, highlights including 'That Green Gentleman', an uplifting and blindingly bright song promoting the comfort of change, and 'When The Day Met The Night', a romantic love story about the sun and moon which highlights the use of trumpets and violins which somehow blends beautifully into one of the most memorable and loved tracks from the entire album. Each song melts into the next with perfection, making Pretty. Odd more of a collective piece of work, like an end of the semester art portfolio, than an album.

Music critics cite Brian Wilson and The Beatles as major comparisons to Pretty. Odd, and seeing as both of these musical acts are considered to have created the best albums of all time, should be thought of as the compliment of the century to Panic!. Honestly, they could have stopped here and had a memorable musical moment in the 21st century. To go along with the unusual punctuation that Panic! At The Disco stylized in their first few years, Everyone. Owned. This. Album. My friends risked their computer's safety by downloading it on Limewire (RIP), and everyone who was lucky enough to get their parents to let them buy it at Target burnt copies for the rest of us. My middle school passed around Pretty! Odd like it was a rare trading card in our Pokémon deck and listened to it until the CD had scratches beyond repair. And then, we burnt more copies. Panic! At The Disco never really did it for me after their sophomore album, but have managed to stay relevant to the rest of the world even after losing most of it's original band members. At least my boombox (which I'm sure by now is buried underneath piles of old clothes in my closet) will always have Pretty. Odd.

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