Fall Out Boy, ‘Save Rock and Roll’ – Album Review
Courtney Love raps on the new Fall Out Boy album 'Save Rock and Roll.' That's the surest sign that things have changed since Patrick Stump, Pete Wentz, Joe Trohman and Andy Hurley last offered up new music.
After 2008's 'Folie a Deux,' the multi-platinum band went on hiatus while each member worked on side projects, the most notable being Stump's adventurous solo album 'Soul Punk.' Meanwhile, EDM and dance took over for pop-punk as the cool genres of the moment.
In response, Fall Out Boy's new tunes on 'Save Rock and Roll' feature dance beats, na-na-nas and catchy vocal chants all over the place, plus a number of A-list cameos. In addition to Love, the record features Big Sean, Foxes, and even Sir Elton John, who appears on the title track. 2 Chainz also guests on a remix of the lead single 'My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light Em Up).'
Fall Out Boy explained on their website, "This is meant be played loud, with the windows down on summer nights. Four friends with our backs to each other fighting in the darkness against anything and everything that is out there. We bowed our heads, took a knee and plugged back in. From the first strings to the last shouts -- this is us."
'Save Rock and Roll' drops this Tuesday, Apr. 16, and we're betting that fans will like it, assuming they're not holding out hope for a return to the band's early sound. Let's break it down track by track.
1. 'The Phoenix'
'The Phoenix' is danceable pop-punk with rapid-fire lyrics, gun shots and urgent strings that evoke a military vibe. Stump shouts intensely, "You are a brick tied to me that's dragging me down / Strike a match and I'll burn you to the ground." 'The Phoenix' is exactly the kind of rock song that should still make perfect sense to include on radio playlists.
2. 'My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light Em Up)'
For their comeback single, FOB chose this stomper punctuated by fierce drums and Stump's "fire!" shrieks. The track deftly blends subtle hip-hop elements with hints of the classic Fall Out Boy sound. We love its dark vibe and infectious hook. [Listen Here]
3. 'Alone Together'
"I don't know where you're going, but do you got room for one more troubled soul?," Stump asks on 'Alone Together,' recalling the 'Folie a Deux' track 'What a Catch Donnie,' when he sang, "I've got troubled thoughts and the self-esteem to match." Despite its oh-oh-oh chants and whistling, 'Alone Together' isn't one of our faves on the album, and its "We could stay young forever" lyric sounds a little too similar to a certain fun. hit.
4. 'Where Did the Party Go'
With a dance beat and synths carrying its chorus, 'Where Did the Party Go' wouldn't have been out of place on Stump's solo record. It's one of the songs that most stands out on a first listen of the album, with a fun, poppy energy shining through even as Stump sings the somewhat dejected words, "My old aches become new again / My old friends become exes again."
5. 'Just One Yesterday' Feat. Foxes
The first guest artist on 'Save Rock and Roll' is the most obscure: British singer Foxes (Louisa Rose Allen), a newcomer who performed at SXSW this year and describes her music as experimental pop. She harmonizes nicely with Stump on a pretty mid-tempo tune about wanting to revisit the past.
6. 'The Mighty Fall' Feat. Big Sean
Big Sean's lackluster verse was the worst part of Justin Bieber's 'As Long As You Love Me,' and he's not much better here, with a sexually-charged rhyme that has virtually nothing to do with the rest of the song. Despite Sean's misstep, 'The Mighty Fall' is saved by a fierce hard rock guitar riff and Stump's vocal as he belts out the hook.
7. 'Miss Missing You'
Failed love inspires early '80s nostalgia on 'Miss Missing You,' which boasts a synth intro that sounds straight out of the new wave era. Stump sings, "Baby you were my picket fence / I miss missing you now and then." By this point in the record, it's become obvious that Fall Out Boy are pretty good at this dance music thing.
8. 'Death Valley'
'Death Valley' is another track that will get fans jumping in concert. It grew out of a demo Trohman recorded on an iPad at his in-laws' house to become an up-tempo song mixing dance beats, electric guitars, and the suggestive words, "I wanna see your animal side / Let it all out / I wanna see the dirt / Under your skin / I need your broken promises."
9. 'Young Volcanoes'
Perhaps the best song on the record, 'Young Volcanoes' is a folky change of pace highlighted by acoustic guitar, hand claps and chants that almost seem tribal. It's in the same vein as Phillip Phillips' 'Home' and pretty much anything by Jason Mraz, though neither of them would unleash a line like, "We will teach you how to make boys next door out of a–holes.” [Listen Here]
10. 'Rat a Tat' Feat. Courtney Love
"It's Courtney, b----!" With that declaration, the Hole singer kicks off a track in which she raps and sings about bombs and blondes. It's ironic that Stump's first line is, "Are you ready for another bad poem?," because the song's vague lyrics are difficult to follow. But the track is still catchy enough to earn repeated listens.
11. 'Save Rock and Roll' Feat. Elton John
Elton John joins the group on the title track, a ballad built around a beautiful piano melody that shines even when overtaken by strings, a big, emotional chorus and a cheesy final key change. Like the album it comes from, 'Save Rock and Roll' sounds very little like old Fall Out Boy, but open-minded listeners will find lots to appreciate.
Watch the Fall Out Boy 'The Phoenix' Video