Release Date: Apr 16, 2013
Record label: Island
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Emo-Pop, Punk-Pop
Fall Out Boy are kidding – right? Four years after their de facto breakup, just when we'd finally forgotten all the embarrassing LiveJournal entries they inspired the first time around, they ride back into town, promising to save rock itself. Then again, these guys were never big on understatement. If their comeback suggests delusions of grandeur, they're only picking up where they left off.
Despite protestations from the band itself, it's hard not to see Fall Out Boy's reunion as anything but an inevitable consequence of the considerable negativity both vocalist Patrick Stump and pop-punk pin-up Pete Wentz's solo projects attracted following FOB's 'indefinite hiatus' back in 2009. Whether deserved or not, the vitriolic flak both Soul Punk and Black Cards received from legions of former FOB fans was suggestive of several things, but most striking was the intense possessive entitlement that FOB seemed to inspire in their 'devoted' listeners. Stump, in particular, was subject to a savage backlash that saw him slammed for everything from his new musical direction to his dramatically reduced waistline.
Ah, 2005: When MySpace was the most relevant social network; Pierce Brosnan was still James Bond; and a pair of scrappy underdog bands, Paramore and Fall Out Boy, were crossing paths on the annual roaming youth-aggression rock carnival known as the Vans Warped Tour. At the time, FOB were already established hitmakers, buoyed by the massive crossover success of ”Sugar, We’re Goin’ Down”; the lesser-known Paramore — led by a then-16-year-old Tennessee spitfire named Hayley Williams — had just released their debut and hadn’t made it to the main stage yet, but they would be there soon. Eight years, a handful of platinum smashes, and a thousand pop-radio micro-trends later, both bands are back in decidedly updated iterations: FOB’s Save Rock and Roll is out April 16, and Paramore’s Paramore was released April 9.
When any band heads back into the studio after a lengthy hiatus, it’s often accompanied by a burning desire to return to their roots. So, be warned, anyone hoping for Fall Out Boy’s reunion to see them ditch the slick radio-pop of divisive 2008 album ‘Folie A Deux’ and return to their pop-punk past is going to be seriously disappointed. From the second the sampled strings of opener ‘The Phoenix’ kick in it’s clear that ‘Save Rock And Roll’ isn’t even remotely like old-school Fall Out Boy.
“...Dreams again?” Let’s be honest, this Wonderful World called “POP” has been a duller place without Fall Out Boy. Throughout the Noughties they provided mucho “Pop Rocky” par excellence. That sparky, sparkly, sunny afternoon sound that flickers brightly in that sweet spot between sugar-rush playground pop and the bigger boys’ butch n’ beardy college rock.
Early on in Save Rock and Roll, Patrick Stump sings he'll change you like a remix then raise you like a phoenix, words written, as always, by Pete Wentz, and sentiments that place this 2013 Fall Out Boy comeback in some kind of perspective. After the absurdly ambitious 2008 LP Folie à Deux, the band expanded and imploded, winding up in a pseudo-retirement where Stump released an inspired but confused solo record while Wentz pursued Black Cards, a band that went nowhere. Failure has a way of reuniting wayward souls, and so Stump, Wentz, Joe Trohman, and Andy Hurley all settled their differences and cut Save Rock and Roll, an album that acts like Fall Out Boy never went away while simultaneously acknowledging every trend of the last five years.
Afour-year hiatus and coolly received solo projects behind them, US emo heroes Fall Out Boy previewed their typically outlandishly titled comeback album by revealing that they'd realised they were grownups now, with mortgages and kids. However, fans needn't fret that they've returned with songs about pension plans and lawnmowers. "We can stay young together," they proclaim, their recipe for eternal youth seemingly involving yelling very loudly.
Going out at your peak is great for your legacy, but it makes coming back (a foregone conclusion these days) that much more challenging. Fall Out Boy were acutely aware of this and recorded what became their return to the limelight in secret, just in case things didn't work out. Save Rock and Roll won't save anything, but it's a natural follow-up to 2008's Folie à Deux.
There’s a rock proverb that goes: “It’s better to burn out than fade away.” But is it really? We never knew. Neil Young? Def Leppard? Still touring. Still promising to burn out. Following a lackluster response to 2008’s Folie a Deux, Fall Out Boy seemed destined to fade away until vocalist Patrick Stump burned the band out instead.
Put on your war paint: Fall Out Boy is out to reclaim their crown as your favorite guilty pleasure with Save Rock and Roll, a clutch of infectious melodies constrained by a dense commercial shell. Since the band's 2005 breakout From Under the Cork Tree, their mainstream success has been built on a penchant for simple, penetrating melodies, self-deprecation, and the shrewd exploitation of bassist/chief lyricist Pete Wentz's boy-band looks. The quartet's transition from generic pop-punk to a more expansive model inclusive of electronic and orchestral elements also helped forge a distinct sound in an oversaturated genre.
After announcing that they would be taking an indefinite hiatus in November 2009, few would have expected to see the return of Fall Out Boy so soon. Yet, just under two and a half years later, the pop punk band are back with their fifth studio album, Save Rock And Roll. Unsurprisingly, the four-piece’s return was greeted with essentially the same reaction that they have received throughout most of their career: both excitement and derision.
At this point, there is little to no difference between Fall Out Boy and any other mainstream radio schlock. Patrick Stump's vocals have become so good that he now shares a vocal style similar to Maroon 5's Adam Levine on certain songs, and the music is overproduced with such a coating of smooth synths, strings and drum machine/over-compressed drums that it might as well be Katy Perry (just check out "Where Did the Party Go?" and imagine her voice in it) or, I dunno, Imagine Dragons? I can't even name a high-level rock band anymore other than the Foo Fighters, but they still have integrity unlike these acts. Anyway, gone from Fall Out Boy's sound are the metalcore breakdowns, gone are the Saves The Day-inspired pop-punk chord progressions, gone are the overtly-emo Get Up Kids-inspired lyrics.