Fall Out Boy is back.
And it’s about time. Since 2009, the band had been on indefinite hiatus. Frontman Patrick Stump pursued his own individual projects, while guitarist Joe Trohman and drummer Andy Hurley left to form a new group, The Damn Things.
And yet, with Save Rock and Roll, the band proves that, for them, there is still music left to be made.
This is not the Fall Out Boy you remember, not the same band that released From Under the Cork Tree and Infinity on High. Fall Out Boy has evolved and, with Save Rock And Roll, almost completely cast off their punk roots.
The most popular track, “My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light ‘Em Up),” showcases the sound of the edgy, rock-infused band Fall Out Boy has become.
As the song suggests, Fall Out Boy is figuratively “burning” their old songs and rising from the ashes, as per the first track on the album, “The Phoenix.” Gone are the powerful rock singles, such as “Dance, Dance.”
In fact, the album is such a far cry from the old Fall Out Boy that despite their freshness, these two songs “The Phoenix” and “Light ‘Em Up” ring the truest to the band’s previous albums.
“Light ‘Em Up” is not particularly inventive – in fact, most of the song relies on the repetition of the track’s title. What makes the song shine, however, is Patrick Stump’s vocals.
He is absolutely phenomenal in every song in the album – in particular on “The Phoenix,” which is perhaps the best showcase of Stump’s vocal prowess.
It begins with hard bursts of background guitar music, combined with equally forceful singing by Stump, before moving into the more lyrically-driven chorus.
This song is perhaps the most justifiably “rock” song on Save Rock and Roll and yet, it still contains heavy pop elements.
“Alone Together,” the third track, plays more like a sad pop song. There is little-to-no guitar play – one can barely hear the hints of acoustic guitar in the background in the lighter sections of the song.
The same can be said of “Where Did The Party Go,” which is, once again, just a repetition of the song’s title phrase.
Notable on the list of Save Rock and Roll‘s weak moments is “The Mighty Fall,” featuring an odd and ill-fitted collaboration with rapper Big Sean. Other collaborations add variety to the album – notably, “Rat A Tat” with Courtney Love and “Save Rock and Roll” with Elton John.
In “Rat A Tat,” Courtney imitates Britney Spears, opening with “It’s Courtney, b-tch,” before continuing into her opening sequence and transitioning to Fall Out Boy’s portion of the song, leaving listeners wondering – why Courtney?
It’s better than “The Mighty Fall,” but that may not say much. Disregarding Courtney’s portion of the song, “Rat A Tat” is actually one of the best songs on the album.
It alternates between a fast-paced and edgy chorus of the titular “Rat A Tat” and a softer section.
The combination of the two different styles of music within one song draws the listener in for an entertaining final product.
Title track “Save Rock and Roll” is a completely different animal. Despite its slow tempo, it is completely fitting as the ending track of the album, oozing the emotion fitting of a finale.
Elton John’s harmony with Patrick Stump – another unexpected collaboration – is surprisingly successful.
The lyrics of this song help to shed some light on the choice of name for the album. Stump sings, “Wherever I go / Trouble seems to follow / Only plugged in to save rock and roll.”
Fall Out Boy isn’t necessarily trying to “save rock and roll” as a genre but salvage what it means to them personally.
So, overall, how would I rate this album? It’s not the Fall Out Boy I cherished in my middle and high school years, and the change, for me, is almost too drastic.
In particular, I protest the naming of the album as Save Rock and Roll; to me, there is little that is “rock” about any of this music.
That being said, this is a good album. Patrick Stump’s voice, as already stated, is absolutely phenomenal and clearly at its very best.
Change is growth, and Fall Out Boy has certainly grown. Though some, including myself, may criticize them for having grown “too mainstream,” such an evolution will help to keep the band’s music relevant for modern audiences.
One also cannot expect a band to produce the same music record after record, though I personally miss the Fall Out Boy of Infinity on High.
So, to sum it up, give Save Rock and Roll a try. It’s a pretty good album, boasting several singles – notably “The Phoenix” and “Rat A Tat” – that really shine. Who knows? You may be pleasantly surprised.
– By Anne Reynolds