I am a hardcore fan of Fall Out Boy. There. I said it. My teenage self had every lyric tattooed into her mind, and would spend many hours learning to play their songs on bass guitar. I even transformed an entire bedroom wall into a mural, covered with posters and magazine pull outs, as a kind of shrine to the band - I actually thought I was going to drop dead of pure happiness when I went to see them play live - So naturally, I was more than a little bit heart broken when Fall Out Boy decided they were taking a break back in 2009.
Four years later, it seems we’ve survived the hiatus, as Fall Out Boy announce their questionably named fifth album, Save Rock and Roll. I would be lying if I said Fall Out Boy were the same band I first fell in love with as a teenage girl - It’s evident from this record that their sound has grown greatly, and I certainly don’t think that’s a negative thing. It particularly feels like once-shy singer Patrick Stump has grown so much in confidence through focusing on his solo career during the hiatus.
Introducing the album with a vibe very different to past Fall Out Boy efforts is The Phoenix, which I must say is an absolute cracker of a track. After that four year hiatus, the lyrics “Put on your war paint” make it seem like an initial call to arms to Save Rock and Roll. (I apologise for that. It made me cringe a little inside too) If I could describe this song in three words: Infectious, dance-able, awesome… notice how we’re only one track in and I promised myself I’d suppress my inner teenager in an attempt to review this album maturely.
On a more serious note, there are a couple of growers on here. I will openly admit that, upon first listen of My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. It does, however, feel exactly right that this track accompanied the announcement of both Save Rock and Roll and an end to the hiatus - I think you need that initial shock when a band changes their sound. Another track I disliked at first was Where Did The Party Go. I really wasn’t feeling this initially, as it seemed a little naff. It’ll grow on you though - Its seriously catchy and has fast become one of my favourites on the album.
This is a real radio friendly pop-rock album, with tracks like Alone Together and Miss Missing You which, whilst bulked out with additional synths, nod to a past reincarnation of Fall Out Boy. You’ll also notice the chirpy Young Volcanoes which, despite seeming vastly different to anything the band has done before, glimmers with hints of the old FOB sound.
The band seem to have really expanded and built their sound in this record, with a couple of surprising collaborations, all of which discover new levels of potential. There is, what I can only describe as, a very pretty sounding guest vocal from Foxes on Just One Yesterday. Then there’s The Mighty Fall, which features Big Sean, in addition to witty and somewhat tongue-in-cheek lyrics: “They say I’ve got screws missing, well hell, only when I’m missing you. And hell yeah I’m a dick, girl, addicted to you”. Oh and of course, as a Hole fan, I don’t think I could tell you how excited I got upon hearing Ms Love announce, “It’s Courtney, bitch!”, the first time I listened to Rat A Tat… though please stop me right this minute before I simply explode into a big fangirl-ish mess!!
One of my real stand out tracks of Save Rock and Roll has to be Death Valley. This is without a shadow of a doubt the strongest and most solid song on this album. I heard this was written using a different method to the one the band became used to - Perhaps this new approach is a product of the hiatus, either way, whatever they’re doing here seems to be a winning recipe.
The final track of the album Save Rock and Roll samples the song Chicago Is So Two Years Ago from their first album, and features a collaboration with Elton John, which just feels like it was meant to be. It sums up a matured and glossy album, a far cry from the raw fall out boy sound we first fell in love with in Take This To Your Grave.
Sure, there’s always going to be people who dislike the new material, snubbing it for being too different/commerical whilst accusing the band of selling out. In which case, I would advise you to listen to the entire Fall Out Boy discography in order, to really see the progression of their sound. Of course, I’m never going to stop loving Take This To Your Grave and From Under The Cork Tree, but in music, change through growth can be such a brilliant and positive thing.