By ALYSSA HOLCOMB
Fall Out Boy were frontrunners of the pop-alt hybrid hysteria in the mid-2000s. Naturally, you’d expect four years, some haircuts, and a kid named Bronx would change some things – and to an extent, it has. But the high-pitched, pop-rock sound that made Fall Out Boy so popular to begin with is still evident on their new record, Save Rock and Roll – it’s just accentuated at some points by arguably strange collaborations and a bit of dubstep.
Singer Patrick Stump used his downtime from FOB to write and work on a (quiet) solo career – the tech focus of some of those songs is evident on this record. The background to the album’s first single “My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light Em Up)” [starring 2 Chainz[ sounds shrouded in heavy machinery, but not necessarily in the auto-tuned way. For all intents and purposes, it’s darker; there’s more grit to Stump’s voice, with background “I’m on fi-yaaaa” chants echoing and creating a relatively harsher atmosphere.
“The Phoenix” is similar to this style, fixed with thrashing strings. Yet, oddly enough, this is as “heavy” as the album gets. After these two songs, the album becomes sufficiently lighter and bubbly. Seguing into Top 40-friendly songs like “Alone Together” and “Young Volcanoes,” it showcases Stump’s signature high pitch once again.
Other tracks like the Pete Wentz handled bass-groover “Where Did The Party Go” and the vaguely Blondie sounding “Miss Missing You” (seriously, listen to it and tell me it doesn’t sound like “Heart of Glass” for a second) are just as poppy. Stump’s voice is decidedly higher than ever on the latter and makes one question just how he got to that pitch.In addition, with songs like “Just One Yesterday” featuring Foxes and “Rat A Tat” with Courtney “It’s Courtney, Bitch” Love, the album has some decidedly interesting collaborations. “The Mighty Fall,” featuring Big Sean, is also a curious collaboration – but it works. The band has always been able to mix rap with their sound – it is somehow adaptable with their style.
If I were to compare these tracks to their other hit singles like “Dance, Dance” and “Thnks Fr Th Mmrs,” the ones on Save Rock and Roll are, as a whole, more pop-oriented. That’s not necessarily a bad thing (depending on who you talk to), but some FOB fans may be put off from the lack of “Take This To Your Grave” thrash they so love.
However, Fall Out Boy give a nod to their fans with the title track album closer. Kicking off with a sample of “Chicago Is So Two Years Ago” off of “Grave,” it’s a poignant closer that is both nostalgic and new – and it even features Elton John. It’s cool for a longtime fan like me to hear the mix of the two tracks – and it will be interesting to see where this album takes the band in music to come.
Fall Out Boy will be on tour throughout the summer and again in the fall. For dates and ticket info, log onto the band’s website. Save Rock and Roll hits shelves on April 16th.