There is a weird twist of a fate in the title of Fall Out Boy's latest record, “Save Rock and Roll,” that was released this week, in it that it's the band's least “rock and roll” album yet. As the group is well-known for breaking through as a punk act, this latest release makes rock feel more like an idea than anything else (not to mention the first single features popular rap artist 2 Chainz).
While the album itself may not live up to the title, it does bring Fall Out Boy back to the pop music scene after a five-year hiatus that led to various side projects. It starts off with the album's second single and the most impressive track of the bunch, “The Phoenix.” It hits you hard with dramatic severity, almost like an orchestra led by driving violins, and every two beats, big percussive thuds explode. Then, as singer Patrick Stump starts belting the vocals, a fist-pumping kick drum starts to pulse; the album kicks off with a battle cry.
The next track, first single “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light Em Up),” follows well in line. “Alone Together” is carried at first solely by Stump's defined voice and light pianos in the back, feeling ready for a down-tempo stadium sing-along before breaking into the full band and easily echoed backing vocals.
The rest of the album rolls with consistency, though it is top-heavy with the three aforementioned tracks. “Young Volcanoes” may be the unsung hero that carries the album, as it is catchy enough for pop radio, yet still somewhat true to FOB's roots.
One thing that almost everyone expects is the unique lyrics FOB brings to the table. Juvenile in nature, lines like, “We are the jack-o'-lanterns in July, setting fire to the sky,” and “Cross walks and crossed hearts hope to die,” soak up the album. Although his delivery is strong, it doesn't make up for some of the bad writing Stump put together.
There are a few unlikely guest appearances that actually fit in well. Fleet Foxes, Big Sean, Courtney Love, and Elton John are all featured on a track. Each one does something different, ending with John and the “throw your lighters in the air” title track.
In the end, Fall Out Boy have created very little rock and roll with this album, let alone saved it. Instead of sticking to their reliable formula, the group decided to go in a different direction, which may not sit well with fans, but neither did taking five years off. In the end, with a new sound, Fall Out Boy may have instead saved themselves from a dud comeback.
Fall Out Boy 'Save Rock and Roll' Rating: W W W V