I’ve given it a few weeks to digest this new Fall Out Boy album and truth be told, I’m sat here, mouth full of hash browns and cherry coke, ears full of loud boys shouting angry metaphors, and I think I’m falling in love all over again.
As a loyal fan for years, I was bouncing around the room at the news of their return, and was amazed at their ability to record a whole album in secret, then offering the fans a release date so soon after the ‘shock’ announcement. We were ready for a half-arsed attempt at a comeback, cashing in on their prolonged hiatus now that their pockets are once again empty. Instead, what we received was something completely, refreshingly different.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the four piece from Illinois, they formed in 2001 and quietly released their debut album, Take This To Your Grave in 2003, hoping to break away from the underground scene. It wasn’t until 2005, with the release of From Under The Cork Tree, that they experienced real recognition. ‘Dance Dance‘ became the undeniable rock anthem of that year. Still riding high on their fame, Fall Out Boy found yet more success with 2007’s Infinity on High which, thanks to ‘Thnks Fr Th Mmrs‘ reached #1 in America, marking their position as a serious and reputable rock band. Their efforts in 2008 gave us Folie a Deux, a move away from their original musical direction, offering a more diverse and modern (perhaps even more approachable) sound. Fan reaction was mixed and cracks in the band began to show. Inner turmoils spilled outwards and they eventually announced an indefinite hiatus in late 2009. Just before the announcement, fans were treated to a Greatest Hits album, but we couldn’t help but think it was all over for our favourite spunky rockstars.
Focusing on their individual efforts led to mixed results from the ‘Boys’ – Pete Wentz’s dabble in ‘Black Cards‘ left a lot to be desired, whilst Patrick Stump’s solo album channelled his inner Michael Jackson and was both under-appreciated and outstanding in equal measure. Then came the rumours of a reformation: no concrete evidence could be found (so shut up next time, Perez Hilton) and thus we plodded along, still clinging to the hope that one day our favourite boys would see the light and come back together.
CUT TO February 4th 2013. Pictures of FOB throwing all of their old albums into a fire with the tagline “The Future Starts Here: Save Rock and Roll”. Cue an immensely effective viral campaign resulting in an unimaginable fanbase buzz, and then the truth was out. We were due an album in mere weeks, tickets for a worldwide tour were soon on sale and the band were officially back together.
Getting back to the matter at hand, this album is entirely different to anything they have ever put out. Fall Out Boy created a real “sound” in their first few albums, which found itself a bit diluted by the time Folie a Deux reared its diverse head. Save Rock and Roll showcases a further move away from their “rocky roots” and follows in the footsteps of Tegan and Sara’s Heartthrob (as well as Paramore’s self titled album) with a real focus on catchy hooks, charming harmonies and genius melodies. This all results in a fresh, poppy feel to the album. There are even traces of dubstep in ‘Death Valley‘, a stab at the “club banger” generation in ‘Where Did The Party Go?‘ and a borderline law-breaking Adele inspired opening of ‘Just One Yesterday‘.
So, it’s ironically called Save Rock and Roll, right? Wrong. “Rock and Roll is an attitude, something that you feel – fun, danger, whatever you want to call it. We just want to feel real again. At the end of the day, rock and roll saved us. Fall Out Boy has always played with irony and tried to take the piss out of ourselves. It doesn’t sound like our other albums but it sounds exactly like Fall Out Boy in 2013.” Watching their old videos back and listening again to their early singles, you can genuinely tell that this is what the band are all about. I’m glad we cleared that one up, aren’t you?
In the wake of the bombings, the band donated the proceeds of their Boston gig to charities working to help rebuild the city and offer shelters for the out-of-towners, proving that they really aren’t just in this for the money. This band still cares about their fans and, more importantly, they care more about the music they make. They moved the release date forward because the album was finished and there was no need to wait any longer; they streamed it free for weeks before it was released so we wouldn’t throw our money away on an unfinished record that not even Psy would wipe his ass with; our first glimpse into new music was the affectionately (and nostalgically) titled ‘My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light ‘Em Up)‘ which eased us back into a world where Fall Out Boy would once again reign.
Whilst this album might be a step away from Rock and Roll (so to speak) it is a step in the right direction – it’s relevant, it’s current and it’s very, very good. The icing on the cake, though, is the way this album helps you appreciate their previous music. They’ve not forgotten their roots (amongst the reams of references to old songs, the final track on the album – ‘Save Rock and Roll‘ – samples their first ever single and even features one of our own, the majestic Sir Elton John). This record is a perfect addition to their already great collection of work.
Just like other bands, Fall Out Boy have grown up. They’ve not sold out and they’ve not been forced into this reformation. They are doing it for all the right reasons and you can ultimately hear that in the quality of Save Rock and Roll. Now that the influx of “emo” bands has slowed (which was definitely not the case during their meteoric rise to fame), Fall Out Boy finally stand a chance of being recognised for the geniuses that they are. If the hiatus led them to create this modern masterpiece, I would happily wait another 4 years for their next album. I was, I am and I will continue to be a Fall Out Boy fan. Come join me up here, won’t you?
Save Rock and Roll is available worldwide now.