Ryan Ross is no stranger to success. His first album with Panic! At The Disco went platinum in seven different countries. His second album went platinum in two countries, and charted at #1 on Billboard in 35 countries. And he’s no stranger to taking risks, and stirring up controversy. Rolling Stone called Panic (no punctuation here) At The Disco’s sophomore album one of the 25 Boldest Career Moves in Rock History.
After producing his second critically acclaimed and multi-platinum album, Ross did the unthinkable as a member of one of the world’s most successful bands: he quit. Ross and bass player Jon Walker ditched P!ATD to form The Young Veins — a band that was critically acclaimed, but not particularly commercially successful. Their commercial failure was followed by an announcement that the band was going on hiatus.
The music though, is a step in the right direction. “Untitled Demo” starts off with “Off My Mind (Demo)”, which is eerily reminiscent of early Rolling Stones records, mixed with a little French house – JUSTICE perhaps? The track is a four minute instrumental walk through crunchy, hot amp electric guitars, snappy drums, and voltage-regulated synthesizers. Despite being rough, it sounds like it should be. Clearly, Ross is trying to make a statement about his new stylistic direction: This isn’t the squeaky clean post-punk, emo, pop music he was known for early in his career.
Following the opening instrumental is “Where I Belong (Demo)”, with a Beatles-esque feel like the last Young Veins record. Unlike his work with The Young Veins, this has been cross-pollinated with the aforementioned French house style. Ross’ vocals have an early-McCartney feel to them, and the multi-layered live electric guitars give a richness to the track that often gets lost in modern electronic music. The real standout here isn’t just the musical styling. Lyrically, Ross presents yet another reason why he’s penned three Billboard #1 singles: this is a truly emotionally stirring song.
Upon closer inspection, the lyrics are axiomatic of the current state of his career – painting a story of self reflection, doubt, and sadness. Despite the sing-a-long nature of the lyrics, it’s clear why Ross decided to lead his career comeback with this song: these are the honest admissions of a man searching for answers, looking back at his transgressions, and admitting he was wrong.