Light ‘Em Up: Fall Out Boy’s Explosive Return with ‘Save Rock and Roll’

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Fall Out Boy in Berlin in early March. Photo courtesy of FallOutBoy.com.

Fall Out Boy in Berlin in early March. Photo courtesy of FallOutBoy.com.

On Feb. 4, after four long years, the sixteen-year-old version of me screamed in joy because Fall Out Boy announced that their seemingly unending hiatus was over; they were getting back together! But the exultation didn’t end there: not only were we going to get another tour, we were going to get a whole new album. “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light Em Up)” was released on Feb. 4 as the first song off Fall Out Boy’s fifth studio album, Save Rock and Roll. Sure, it sounded a lot different than the band’s older music, but it was explosive and fantastic.

Photo courtesy of FallOutboy.com.

Photo courtesy of FallOutboy.com.

At the time, it seemed an eternity before the album would be released on April 12th, but we had waited four years, what were another few months? Well it seemed Patrick Stump, Pete Wentz, Andy Hurley, and Joe Trohman couldn’t wait either; the band leaked Save Rock and Roll on their Soundcloud page this Monday. Once it was released, some fans even noticed that Pete had been tweeting lyrics from the songs since last July. After listening to the album a couple hundred times, I can readily say that I love it. But while the teenaged version of me is jumping up and down and rocking out to Save Rock and Roll, here is my full review of Fall Out Boy’s new album.

Save Rock and Roll starts off strong with its first two singles: “The Phoenix” and “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light Em Up.)” They’re great songs, they’re energetic and angry in a way that earlier Fall Out Boy music wasn’t. These songs are more mature and well written than the older stuff. But Patrick Stump’s voice doesn’t go underutilized and there are plenty of fantastically quotable lyrics, so don’t worry, Fall Out Boy hasn’t completely changed.

“You know time crawls on when you’re waiting for the song to start / So dance alone to the beat of your heart”

I even like the production of the songs. There is a moment in “My Songs” when Patrick sings: “A constellation of tears on your lashes. Burn everything you love, then burn the ashes.” Then all the music drops out and there is a sound effect of a match catching fire. No matter how many times I listen to this song, it’s still my favorite part. Plus you can never go wrong with a chorus of whoa-oh-oh’s.

Photo courtesy of Billboard.

Photo courtesy of Billboard.

While these songs do a good job of introducing fans to the band’s new sound, I was worried the rest of the album wouldn’t be able to keep up with the energy of these songs. However, I was wrong. “Alone Together” and “Where Did the Party Go” are just as loud and upbeat as the first two songs, although they sound notably less violent. They’re even, dare I say, danceable. In these next few songs, you can hear a trace of Fall Out Boy’s former music. Maybe it’s the carefree tones in “Where Did the Party Go” or maybe it’s because the guys actually sound like they’re having fun again while they wrote these songs.

With the next few tracks, Fall Out Boy introduces a few of the artists they collaborated with on this album: Foxes, Big Sean, Courtney Love, and Elton John. If there is something to be said, it is that I sure as hell never thought I’d ever list those four artists together. From indie pop to rap, alt rock to piano rock, there’s a little bit of something for everyone. Of course, the big question isn’t how far reaching these artists are, but how well they work on the album. For the most part, I’d say yes. Although I had some serious doubts, even after I listened to the album all the way through, I’ve come to really love these collaborations. Each featured artist brings out a new side of Fall Out Boy’s music that adds an eclectic, almost mix-tape feel, to the album. In “The Mighty Fall,” the addition of Big Sean makes for a great rap/rock track while Foxes’s vocals on “Just One Yesterday” creates a cool indie rock song.

The band in the studio. Photo courtesy of FallOutBoy.com.

The band in the studio. Photo courtesy of FallOutBoy.com.

Then there’s “Rat A Tat.” I am not a huge fan of this song because it sounds the most out of place on the album, but I might be biased because I’m not too big a fan of Courtney Love. The song does have its merits. It’s good and to be fair, it’s also not the first track on the album to sound a little out of place. The intro to “Miss Missing You” sounds like something out of an 80s song, which might have something to do with the instruments used. But the band makes it work. If there is one thing this album does, it really speaks to Fall Out Boy’s ability to take so many interesting and different elements and pull them together to create something really great.

The next few songs, “Death Valley” and “Young Volcanoes,” are two of my favorite tracks on the album. The beginning of “Death Valley” sounds a bit like The Black Keys and I really love how it transitions into Joe’s strumming guitar and Patrick scream-singing. The singer’s voice works especially well on this song, though it sounds good on every song. Really, I’d forgotten how amazing Patrick’s voice could sound. “Young Volcanoes” also sounds great, although I’m a sucker for acoustic guitar. There’s another great moment in this song when Patrick sings,

“We will teach you how to make boys next door out of assholes,”

then he breaks off into laughter. It’s great because it makes the listener feel as if they’re in the room with the band. Plus, let’s be honest, that is one fantastic snarky lyric.

Elton John and Patrick Stump. Photo courtesy of FallOutBoy.com.

Elton John and Patrick Stump. Photo courtesy of FallOutBoy.com.

In the final song, “Save Rock and Roll,” the band collaborates with Elton John, which is certainly a working relationship I never would have envisioned. There is a lot of emotion in Patrick’s voice when he sings,

“I cried tears you’ll never see, so fuck you, you can go cry me an ocean and leave me be.”

I especially love the nod to “Chicago Is So Two Years Ago” by playing the lyric track in the background of “Save Rock and Roll” at times. Then, of course, there’s the lyric “You are what you love, not who loves you,” which is a line from Charlie Kaufman’s Adaptation. It’s a great song to end the album on and Elton John sounds really great on the track.

On the whole, I really love Save Rock and Roll. It is a great addition to Fall Out Boy’s discography. Sure it sounds different, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. Of course, there will always be those fans who complain because it sounds so unlike the music Fall Out Boy used to produce. To those fans I’d like to say: You will always have Take This to Your Grave; you will always have From Under the Cork Tree. You’ll always be able to go back and listen to “Dead on Arrival,” “Chicago Is So Two Years Ago,” “Dance, Dance,” “Sugar We’re Going Down,” and “Thnks fr th Mmrs.”

Anytime you like, you can pull up all their old music in iTunes, Spotify, or whatever music player of your choice. You can put your headphones on, crank up the volume, and it will all be there. That music will always be there for you like an old friend. It will be more constant than any person in your life because those songs and those albums will never change, they’ll never grow up or transform. All of Fall Out Boy’s music will always be there for you, no matter what.

Fall Out Boy visited FUSE on Feb. 6. Photo courtesy of Rob Kim/Getty Images.

Fall Out Boy visited FUSE on Feb. 6. Photo courtesy of Rob Kim/Getty Images.

But those guys—remember a band is made up of human beings?—those four guys are real people and real people change. Their music is going to be different, of course it is. Does it make you any less of a fan if you prefer Take This To Your Grave over Save Rock and Roll? Of course not. You’re a Fall Out Boy fan just like I am or anyone else is. But as a fan, we all need to respect the men who make up this band enough to know that they will never again be those four kids that wrote “Dead on Arrival” together. They’re different people; they’ve grown up just like we have—just like we will continue to do so—and their music is different. Whether you like it or not Save Rock and Roll sounds different. You can love it or hate it. Personally, I love it.

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