Yep, the boys are back. The paradoxical underachievers/legends-in-their-own-minds known as Fall Out Boy, after what was described as an indefinite hiatus, have shown back up on the radar after five years, demanding the spotlight with their new album Save Rock and Roll as though they had never been away.
Fall Out Boy has had an entertaining history, to say the least, evolving from object of interest to the heights of popularity, then into the band we loved to hate. Then they stopped playing—and then we wanted them back. But interestingly enough, they never really changed their shtick; in their collective persona, they’ve always ridden the fence between self-aware bad boys and grandiose narcissists. We were the ones who changed.
Thankfully, they haven’t changed—at least where attitude is concerned. The defiance of “I Don’t Care” is all over this record, just as it was on the last four. A perfect example of this delusional underachiever vibe can be founding the lyrics to “Just One Yesterday”, as Patrick Stump belts out, “Anything you say can and will be held against you / So only say my name”, and elsewhere, “Letting people down is my thing, baby / Find a new gig.”
Where they have changed a bit is in musical style. The total irony behind Save Rock and Roll is that there isn’t much rock and roll to save. Fall Out Boy have always leaned a bit more toward pop than punk, but on this record, they’ve basically jumped in with both feet, incorporating modern pop/rock elements throughout, aping current trends such as New Wave revival (“Miss Missing You”), and a guest rap from Big Sean on “The Mighty Fall.” You’ll even hear them stealing a bar or two from Adele’s “Rolling In the Deep” on “Just One Yesterday” and from Train’s “Hey Soul Sister” on “Young Volcanoes.” About the only time we hear anything near classic FOB is on the rocker “Rat A Tat” (with an appropriate guest vocal from Courtney Love). Oh, and Sir Elton John graces us with his presence on the closing title track. Not sure where that fits into all this—just letting you know.
And yet, in typical FOB fashion, the entire vibe of the record is grand, high-energy, even epic, remarkably reminiscent at times of the production values found late in the Michael Jackson discography. (Except, of course, that these guys are far too self-deprecating to claim MJ as a rival.)
All told, Fall Out Boy have returned in all their tarnished, defiant glory, ready to save the day; and Save Rock and Roll will no doubt give the critics plenty of ammo to rip it to shreds. But I, for one, am glad they are back. This record, and Fall Out Boy in general, are just too fun to hate on.