Panic! At the Disco have invented a new genre: emo retropop. Vices & Virtues is the band's first album since becoming a duo (singer Brendon Urie and drummer Spencer Smith), and it's the closest emo has come to the sound of old-school pop and rock, with Beach Boys harmonies and even gypsy-style swing flavoring the usual hopped-up confessions. The group's old lyricist, Ryan Ross, is gone; these songs are missing some of the hyper mall-rat poetry that made Panic's first two albums such daffy fun. But the arrangements are tight, even when the songs get baroque: Check "Nearly Witches," which mixes funk, Fifties horror-movie kitsch and a children's choir to ridiculous — and sublime — effect.
Listen to "The Ballad of Mona Lisa":