Release Date: Jan 20, 2015
Record label: Island
“This is a really important record,” Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz says of their sixth album. That’s less self-aggrandising than it appears: he meant only that the long-serving Chicago pop-punks are counting on it to protect their “legacy” as a band who are poppy enough to get radio play but rock enough to play the big arenas. But American Beauty/American Psycho also bristles with nervy ambition, and if it’s not an American Idiot-style career-changer, it’s certainly one of their better releases.
With over ten years and a hiatus under their belt, Fall Out Boy have been known to grow and change with each release. 2013's Save Rock and Roll ushered in a new era for Fall Out Boy; the pop punk that the band became known for transformed into pure radio-ready pop. The group's latest release, American Beauty / American Psycho, has expanded on the band's new sound, proving that Fall Out Boy haven't settled yet.They lay the theatrics on thick on American Beauty / American Psycho.
Fall Out Boy ended their four-year hiatus with 2013’s immodestly titled Save Rock and Roll—but these days, the bombastic wise-asses are as much a rock band as OneRepublic. On their sixth LP, American Beauty/American Psycho, FOB reaffirm their status as arena-pop fence-swingers, framing Patrick Stump’s melismatic yelp with electronic beats, left-field samples and enough kick-drum reverb to fill a shark tank. Rock still needs saving, but these guys have other work to do.
Returning to full-time status after the resurrection of 2013's Save Rock & Roll, Fall Out Boy quickly bashed out American Beauty/American Psycho, their sixth record and an album that definitively grapples with a host of percolating pop trends of the 2010s. Ever since they began to have hits in 2006, Fall Out Boy have taken great efforts to incorporate whatever was happening on the charts, an inclination that isn't quite as necessary in the great digital disassociation of the 2010s, yet this inclination does give American Beauty/American Psycho a bit of a kinetic kick. It also gives it a slight air of desperation, evident on the ham fisted "Immortals," a track that first appeared in the Disney animated film Big Hero 6, and it does indeed bear traces of being stitched together to appeal to a broad audience.
On album number seven, their second since returning from their hiatus, Fall Out Boy take the epic builds and releases of Save Rock and Roll and, against all odds, push that energy even further without collapsing under the weight of their own ambition. Considering the un-credited guest spot by Lil Wayne on “Tiffany Blews” off Folie a Deux, the opener “Irresistible” is no surprise. Equal parts pop-punk stabs, hip-hop cadence, and horn-blared bombast, this is an all-hands-on-deck welcome back track to set the stage.
It’s been just over eighteen months since Fall Out Boy made their return to music with their fifth effort ‘Save Rock and Roll’ so admittedly, the fact that a sixth album is already landing in our laps is something of a surprise. After all, it’s not like they’ve not been busy: between festival appearances and huge tours, they squeezed in recording with Ryan Adams, released the subsequent EP ‘Pax Am Days’, and penned the soundtrack for a forthcoming Disney blockbuster. Workaholics though they must be, ‘American Beauty / American Psycho’ isn’t short of epicness.
Open an album with a horn fanfare? Repurpose Suzanne Vega's beloved "Tom's Diner" refrain? Sample Mötley Crüe? Anything officially goes for Fall Out Boy on their sixth album, the group's biggest, broadest, most unabashed pop smorgasbord yet. The emo survivors jump-started their transformation into all-out omnivores on Save Rock and Roll, the 2013 LP that marked an end to their four-year hiatus, and they slam on the gas on this follow-up, which is daringly named after a classic Grateful Dead album and a Bret Easton Ellis novel. When everything connects – like on the single "Centuries" – FOB are a glorious nexus of Seventies glitter rock, Eighties radio pop, Nineties R&B and Aughts electro stomp.
It’s hard to figure out what Fall Out Boy wants to be these days. The real answer is probably a little bit of everything. When the Illinois band emerged from a three-year hiatus with 2013’s Save Rock and Roll — an absurd title, even if you wanted to believe it — they were something quite different from a rock ‘n’ roll band. The video for that album’s lead single, “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light ‘Em Up)”, featured rapper 2 Chainz, and the song’s pummeling hip-hop beat threw an odd bone to the jocks who might have relished kicking Fall Out Boy’s asses in high school.
When Fall Out Boy cheekily named its previous album Save Rock And Roll, it opened the group up to criticism about its place (or perceived lack thereof) within the genre. For the most part, these discussions about stylistic semantics were boring and needlessly cynical; after all, the title track very sincerely referred to the band rekindling its passion for playing music, both with each other and in general. Plus, any arguments about authenticity and intent obscured a more important point about Fall Out Boy’s career: Although the quartet came up in the suburban punk and Chicago hardcore scene and have been a pop radio staple for most of the band’s career, Fall Out Boy somehow still feels like mainstream misfits—too scrappy and rough for pop’s polished upper echelon and too enamored with hip-hop and electro for rock’s monochromatic worldview.
Fall Out Boy have always had a bit of a fearless streak, but it hasn’t necessarily manifested itself on their records. In the old days, the band played each and every live show as if it were their last, thrashing and spinning about the stage, perhaps more concerned with the spectacle than the songs or any war wounds sustained in the chaotic process. As they matured, they began to outgrow the pop-punk playbook, culminating in Folie à Deux, their 2008 pre-hiatus album that was bold, inventive and unlike anything that had come before it.
Two years ago, Fall Out Boy promised with the title of its fifth studio disc to "Save Rock and Roll." The pop-punk band, which reunited in 2013 following an extended break, came pretty close to doing it too, topping Billboard's album chart and spawning a rare guitar-driven radio hit with "My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light Em Up)." But don't mistake Fall Out Boy for a bunch of hidebound preservationists. On its victory lap of a new record, the group pumps up its breakneck jock jams with all kinds of fresh energy. This is a modal window.