Fall Out Boy comes out of hiding to release Save Rock and Roll, their highly anticipated fifth full length that doesn’t fall flat when it comes to being catchy.
If you’ve been living under a rock for the past decade, Fall Out Boy is a Chicago pop-punk band which blew up on a huge scale back in 2005 with From Under the Cork Tree, which spawned such mainstream hits including “Sugar, We’re Going Down” and “Dance, Dance.” With a giant backing from MTV (which, at the time, had TRL playing their music non-stop), Fall Out Boy soon became everyone’s favorite band to hate on. Sure, they had no real edge and their music videos typically showed off their humor, but that was (and still is) no reason to hate on these rather talented musicians. The quartet eventually went on hiatus in 2010, perusing a life after FOB, including side projects, family life, and solo careers. Although I was particularly fond of Patrick Stump’s debut solo album, none of the side projects really took off like their band did all those years ago.
That might have been the catylist for bringing these guys back together for their fifth album, the questionably titled Save Rock and Roll. I say “questionably” because this album has so many different genres mixed into these eleven tracks that you would think this is the furthest thing AWAY from Rock and Roll.
The album starts with the cinematic, bombastic war march “The Phoenix,” which mixes in elements of an electro backbeat and vocalist Patrick Stump’s anthemic vocal inflections that makes this the best first track in their entire discography. The second song and lead single “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light ‘Em Up)” has such a hip-hop feel to it, the song is almost asking for multiple remixes and samples on your favorite rapper’s next mixtape. “Young Volcanoes” has this acoustic charm and playful verses that you just can’t help but to put a smile on when it’s played. The title track, featuring F$&#*&@ ELTON JOHN, has some beautiful production to it, and when Stump and Elton sing together, it fits rather nicely together. It’s fitting the most mature song on the album closes it, as it shows off the band and where they are now in their careers – they aren’t punks anymore, people.
The biggest constant to this album (because there really is only one) is Patrick Stump’s vocal performance. There’s a reason he went solo – his voice is still crisp, soulful and has that unique quality that made past FOB albums and Soul Punk so enjoyable. He can easily hit the upper registers, and belt out long, sustained, gorgeous notes that are just chill inducing. Stump is what new frontmen should be – animated and passionate. Sadly, Stump is a rare breed, included with such artists like Hayley Williams, Gerard Way, and Anthony Green.
There are some pitfalls on the album that do have to be addressed. “Where Did the Party Go” is obviously a sing-along type of song, and as a standalone track, it felt like it missed out of being something truly memorable. “Miss Missing You” has some great vocal spots for Stump, but the electronics and meh-worthy chorus makes the song with a lot of potential (the lyric “The person that you’d take a bullet for is behind the trigger” is probably my favorite line on the album), but just falls rather flat. “The Mighty Fall” also had plenty of potential as a club banger, but the phoned in Big Sean verse just killed the songs momentum at the end. Lastly, “Rat A Tat” featuring Courtney Love would’ve been a great pop punk song without Love on the track. Though her Max Bemis-like spoken word sections are definitely interesting sections, I just felt like they weren’t exactly necessary.
If you fell off the boat once Fall Out Boy called it quit all those years ago, I recommend you find yourself a life raft and swim back. Though Save Rock And Roll clearly isn’t perfect, it does bring new life into the pop rock scene they helped rescue all those years ago. The singles listed are definitely going to stay in my rotation, and unless “The Phoenix” somehow loses its punch, you can guarantee it being on my year end favorite singles list. Though FOB didn’t hit all the high notes I would’ve liked it to, it did teach me something – not all reunions have to be disappointing.
Final Grade: B
Go Download: “The Phoenix”