What might have been a normal day like any other was, for millions, a reawakening, a homecoming, a true act of divine intervention; on Feb. 4, 2013, Fall Out Boy formally announced their reunion. Rejoice, for the princes of pop punk have returned.
If you’re anything like me, you spent the majority of your adolescence being unnecessarily moody and angsting to the tune of Patrick Stump’s impassioned wailing. I remember begging my mom for a ride to Target so I could pick up a copy of “From Under the Cork Tree” (remember when CDs were a thing?) and subsequently blasting the album for the entire summer.
So when the Internet exploded with news of the band’s reformation, I was psyched to get listening; however, like many other long-time fans, I was left confused after giving the album’s first single, “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light ‘Em Up),” a turn. What’s with all this synth? Where were the powerful vocals over clean guitar? And why is 2 Chainz the protagonist of this music video?
With the debut of a new (and admittedly, quite surprising) sound, Fall Out Boy delivers a dynamic comeback album in the form of “Save Rock and Roll.” The album is an acknowledgment to how mainstream music has changed since FOB released their last album, “Folie à Deux,” in 2008; there are bass drops, a noticeable decline in live instrumentation, and even a song featuring a verse by rapper Big Sean.
Despite all of these innovations, the band stays true to their roots, with Stump’s raspy tone soaring over catchy choruses, Joe Trohman’s electrifying guitar riffs hitting hard on a few tracks, and a hefty load of cameo artists. “Save Rock and Roll” is a risky release with a number of questionable choices, but is presented with a distinct brand of confidence that can only be a product of Pete Wentz’s doing; Fall Out Boy is back with a vengeance.
The album kicks off with a truly anthemic track, “The Phoenix.” Although the cheesy lyrics (“I’m gonna change you like a remix / Then I’ll raise you, like a phoenix”) and weighty orchestral intro should deflate the song, you find yourself shimmying in your seat the whole way through. There’s no question as to why this song was selected as the second single off the album.
Notable songs along the way include “Miss Missing You,” the closest we get to the embittered yearning of the Fall Out Boy of yore, and “Young Volcanoes,” a toe-tapper that is vaguely reminiscent of Panic! At the Disco circa 2008. The album’s weak spots are definitely on the cameos: “The Mighty Fall,” with Big Sean, feels as if it belongs on a different album entirely. Courtney Love’s incessant whining over the entirety of “Rat A Tat” marks the song as desperately wannabe punk.
The one guest that manages to hold his own is Elton John, with his contribution on the title track, “Save Rock and Roll.” Now, I know what you’re thinking: after an undeniably poppy album, FOB decides to sing a song about saving rock ‘n roll with a pop idol who literally oozes glitter? You bet they do.
With “Save Rock and Roll,” FOB has an album so different from their previous ones that it might as well be from a different band altogether. A decade after the turn out of their first full-length album (Take This to Your Grave), Fall Out Boy has released a comeback album that shouldn’t work, but does. And, damn, am I glad that they’re back.
Recommended: Fall Out Boy doesn’t necessarily save rock and roll, but they kick ass nonetheless.