Longing for More FOB ‘Beauty’

Courtesy of Island Records

Courtesy of Island Records

The six-year wait for Fall Out Boy to return from hiatus was welcoming in 2013 with “Save Rock & Roll.” In relation to the album title, they didn’t literally save the rock and roll genre, but it was still a strong return to the scene. The album showed that the band had fully embraced their pop-rock style to the point that pop synths and occasional sampling began to take on a bigger presence over the rock aesthetics, which has ultimately created some dissonance amongst its vast fanbase.

Not even two full years after the releases of “Save Rock & Roll” and the EP “PAX AM Days,” Fall Out Boy has quickly cranked out another album, which has arguably their most intriguing title: “American Beauty/American Psycho.” Despite the intriguing title and some catchy stand-alone songs, the album itself proves to be one of Fall Out Boy’s lesser efforts.

The album opens with “Irresistible,” a song destined to become a fist-pumping, stadium anthem hit once their tour begins. The opening of thumping trombone chords set the perfect lead-in for Patrick Stump’s energetic vocals, and the lyrics that detail abusive love provide smart irony to the otherwise melodious instrumentals, a common trademark of some of Fall Out Boy’s most popular songs.

The energy of “Irresistible” builds a lot of promise into the transition to the album’s title track, “American Beauty/American Psycho.” While the song is considerably more fast-paced than “Irresistible,” the lyrics are dreadfully lazy. The chorus of “She’s an American Beauty/ I’m an American Psycho” is repeated once too many times, and the accompanying lyrical verses don’t come together.

The next several songs pick up the slack that the title track leaves behind. The extremely popular single “Centuries” is an full-on rush of pop, electronic and rock genre elements, all of which develop into a fully pumped-up anthem fit for David vs. Goliath showdowns.

The seceding track, “The Kids Aren’t Alright,” shows FOB in a more toned-down style that is drowned in a melancholic, yet poetic ballad on past adolescence, which is a profoundly refreshing message to their fans.

One of, if not the best stand-alone track on the album, is “Uma Thurman.” Taking its title from the actress of the same name who played “The Bride” in Quentin Tarantino’s “Kill Bill” films, the song combines an alluring mix of pop and surf-rock beats, in addition to a very catchy chorus: “She wants to dance like Uma Thurman!” (A nice, subtle reference to her famous dance scene in “Pulp Fiction”). However, after the hype that “Uma Thurman” brings to the tracklist, the sound starts to fall off with “Jet Pack Blues.” While this song captures the soulfulness of Patrick Stump’s vocal range, it is otherwise woefully underwhelming. Sandwiched between a series of songs that are just plain satisfactory, are “Novacane” and “Immortals,” two tracks that capture the combination of grittiness and pop-punk beats that Fall Out Boy is known for. “Immortals,” which was used to promote Disney’s animated feature ‘Big Hero 6,’ is more of the same high energy and catchiness that they bring in “Centuries.”

Though the songs seem disjointed as a compilation, Pete Wentz’s emotionally-driven songwriting and Stump’s incredibly powerful and unique vocals run through the majority of the album. Those two traits are arguably what make Fall Out Boy such a great band in the grand scheme of things, however, this album is undeniably one of their weakest works.

When the band returned from hiatus with “Save Rock and Roll,” it was the subject to a lot of criticism, especially from fans who were not ready to embrace a new sound. In spite of this, however, the album was a remarkable return to the music scene and an incredibly well constructed record. We can’t say the same about “American Beauty/American Psycho.”

After going on three tours in support of “Save Rock and Roll” and the release of an EP, Fall Out Boy hasn’t had much time to create a polished album, and it shows. While as fans, we are glad to see that they are riding this renewed momentum, it might have been best for them to take some time and create a more cohesive record.

 

ONLY RECOMMENDED IF: You are ready to skip a few songs. AB/AP has great standalone tracks, but lackluster as a whole.