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Panic at the Disco, ‘Pretty. Odd.’ (Decaydance/Fueled By Ramen)

Members of most bands pay their dues in a van with no money and no audience, but Panic at the Disco’s Ryan Ross played nurse to an alcoholic dad who died when the young quartet first hit the road. And it’s given the Vegas kids an acute sense of responsibility. Since few but the 1.5 million girls who bought Panic’s first attempts at musicianship believed they deserved their success, it’s not really a surprise that their follow-up feels like massive overcompensation.While 2005’s A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out was Fall Out Boy with extra studio filigree, Pretty. Odd. is a big-budget Beatles love letter right down to its Abbey Road orchestra playing as loudly as the band over nearly every lysergic lyric. The results could’ve been embarrassing, but Ross and crew have stepped up their songwriting skills to such an extent that they begin the album with a reassurance that they’re “still the same band”-though the evidence is utterly to the contrary. Centerpiece “When the Day Met the Night” volleys a sunshine pop sing-along that’s as blindingly bright as most screamo/metalcore bands are dark, but the 14 other cuts are nearly as dazzling.Pretty. Odd. lives up to its title because it dares to be optimistically beautiful at a time when sadness and ugliness might have won them easier credibility.More on Read our interview with Ryan RossNow Watch This: “Nine in the Afternoon”