Fall Out Boy's Latest Falls a Bit Short
Issue   |   Tue, 01/27/2015 - 22:09
"American Beauty/American Psycho" contains some standout tracks, but lacks consistency and focus throughout.

In the fall of 2009 when Fall Out Boy announced their impending hiatus, fans of the nearly decade-old band were devastated. Not to be deterred, Fall Out Boy put out “Believers Never Die,” a greatest hits album, and played what many feared would be their last show ever. During what became a four-year hiatus,which the band’s bassist Pete Wentz called a “decompressing period”, the members of Fall Out Boy went their separate ways and pursued jobs outside of the former band. Patrick Stump, Fall Out Boy’s lead vocalist and guitarist, attempted a solo music career. The singer even went so far as to produce, write and play every instrument for every song on his solo project: “Soul Punk.”

While Stump’s solo effort was vastly different from the pop punk/alternative rock that Fall Out Boy is known for, “Soul Punk” did not do well commercially. Pete Wentz also attempted a music career outside of Fall Out Boy. His attempt was a duo with Bebe Rexha called Black Cards. Black Cards did release a couple of songs in both 2011 and 2012 however, they never actually released a full album. Mainly known for their remixes of popular artist’s songs, Black Cards only ever released a handful of original material. Since Fall Out Boy’s reunion and subsequent release of their first album in nearly four years, Black Cards has both gone through lineup changes and taken a hiatus.

With nothing involving the music industry to show for, Fall Out Boy secretly began meeting again as a band in 2012. During these meetings, the quartet started to write and record what would become their highly anticipated comeback album, “Save Rock and Roll.” “Save Rock and Roll,” released in 2013, went on to place in the top spot in both the United States and the United Kingdom and placed within the top 50 in over 10 other countries within the first week of its release. Along with the new album, Fall Out Boy also announced to their numerous fans that they would be taking part in a four month long tour with Paramore called the “Monumentour.” While ticket sales for the tour have not been discussed as of yet, based on the large and highly dedicated fan bases that both Paramore and Fall Out Boy have, it can be pretty fairly assumed that the tour did well.

While on the Monumentour, Fall Out Boy began recording and writing their most recent studio effort, entitled “American Beauty/American Psycho.” Whereas “Save Rock and Roll” featured lyrics written by the entire band, Pete Wentz penned a majority of “American Beauty/American Psycho”’s lyrics. Despite the fact that many of the band’s older works also feature Wentz as the main songwriter, “American Beauty/American Psycho” does not sound like the band’s earlier “emo rock” work. Instead, this newest effort sounds very similar to “Save Rock and Roll.” That is to say that the album is chock full of big, loud, stadium filling rock. While the band’s earlier work is closer to pop punk, these past few efforts are closer to pop rock and alternative rock.

So how does “American Beauty/American Psycho” hold up? Honestly, the album falls a bit short. Whereas “Save Rock and Roll” was large and loud with anthem type songs that all managed to sound unique, the songs on “American Beauty/American Psycho” all mesh together to become an unfocused and confusing album. The lead single on the album, “Centuries” very closely resembles “My Songs Know What You Did In the Dark (Light Em Up)” in the sense that both tracks heavily feature Stump’s signature belt as well as an overall anthem-like feeling behind them. However, while the older single was a new sound for the band, “Centuries” just feels like an extended version of the last album, and not in a good way. That is not to say that the songs on “American Beauty/American Psycho” do not offer anything new musically to the band’s discography. There are however a few tracks that really stand out:

“Centuries”: Any lead single for any album has to be good enough to both keep longstanding fans happy and attract new listeners and “Centuries” does just that. Not only is “Centuries” a fun track to listen to, but it is also has lyrics and a melody that make it easy to sing along to.

“The Kids Aren’t Alright”: “Don’t you know that the kids aren’t alright?” That’s the question that Stump croons to listeners. A slower track on the album, “The Kids Aren’t Alright” is the perfect blend of the emo pop punk sound that Fall Out Boy became famous for and their newer, anthem-like sound.

“Uma Thurman”: This track uses a sample of the theme song from “The Munsters”, a 1960s television show. Centered on both of Thurman’s roles in the Tarantino films “Pulp Fiction” and “Kill Bill,” “Uma Thurman” is all over the place in a good way. Featuring fast piano riffs and aggressive drums, the song is truly dance worthy.

“Novocaine”: “Novocaine” starts out quick, and never really slows down. If anyone ever doubted vocalist Patrick Stump’s vocal prowess, this is where those doubts should cease. Stump hits both really high and really low notes, all the while managing to keep the listener entertained.

Overall, “American Beauty/American Psycho” is not the best effort from Fall Out Boy, but it’s still pretty good and will suffice until they can put out more material. If Fall Out Boy wishes to continue to put out more albums and embark on more tours then they will have to keep their fans entertained, and I can almost guarantee that “American Beauty/American Psycho” will only do that for so long.

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