Thursday, April 25, 2013

Fall Out Boy 'saves rock and roll'

by Amelia Heath, Guest Writer

After a three-year hiatus, legendary pop-punk band Fall Out Boy (FOB) released their sixth album on April 16. If, like me, you grew up on lead vocalist Patrick Stump’s wailing vocals and lost your heart to Pete Wentz’s bass lines and tattoos, “Save Rock And Roll” is an album long overdue and well worth the wait.

1.      “The Phoenix” [5 stars]
“Save Rock And Roll’s” opening track gave me shivers from the first chord struck. The song reads as an anthem of revolution as Stump promises listeners, “I’m gonna change you like a remix/Then I’ll raise you like a phoenix.” Between FOB’s signature guitar riffs and aggressive strings, the song is enough to get adrenaline pumping through your veins and make you “put on your war paint.”

2.      “My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light Em Up)” [4 stars]
Fall Out Boy announced their reunion on Feb. 4 with the release of this song and its music video. The tone of the track is reminiscent of the band’s now decade-old album “Take This To Your Grave” — simultaneously upbeat and angry. “My Songs” was ranked as iTunes’s number 10 track at the time of this review and peaked at number 26 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. For how much fans apparently love this song, the rest of the album is even more of a treat.

3.      “Alone Together” [4.5 stars]
“Alone Together” feels almost like a sequel track to “The (Shipped) Gold Standard” from the 2008 album “Folie a Deux.” Led by a smart drum beat, the song gives off a manic-romantic vibe.

4.      “Where Did The Party Go” [4 stars]
If I controlled the radio, “Where Did The Party Go” would do well as a dramatic, somewhat cryptic summer ballad. Stump’s vocal range shines in this lamentation for love lost, friends lost and time lost — common threads in the fabric of the FOB lyrical empire. The beat and hook keep things light enough that the song could be included in a late-night beach party playlist. Someone pass the SPF 30.

5.      “Just One Yesterday feat. Foxes” [5 stars]
From the first time I played this song, I had a feeling it would be my favorite on the album. Stump’s luscious vocals melt over a heavy bass line to create a heartrending tale of remorse and revenge — the phrase “I want to teach you a lesson in the worst kind of way/Still I’d trade all my tomorrows in for just one yesterday” will be resonating in my head for days to come. The inclusion of British pop sensation Foxes hits the sweet spot: a pinch of backup vocals plus a delicious handful of melody to break from the pulsing beat of the song equals a satisfied listener.

6.      “The Mighty Fall feat. Big Sean” [3 stars]
For me, this song could stand on its own without Big Sean’s verse — after Jay-Z’s opener for the 2007 album “Infinity On High,” a collaboration with any other rapper is subpar at best. Overall, however, listeners can enjoy some sharp metaphors that serve as a sign of the times. 

7.      “Miss Missing You” [3.5]
For an album titled “Save Rock And Roll,” I was more than a little surprised to be met with such a strong synth background in this song. That being said, don’t discount the song — it does give Stump a beautiful opportunity to let loose vocally. Remember those screaming bridges from earlier albums that would drive your mom insane? This is as close as you’ll get to that in this album.

8.      “Death Valley” [4 stars]
“Death Valley” serves as a rock response to mainstream club-pop anthems, affirming for the YOLO generation that a little reckless abandon can serve as a brief escape from the harsh reality that is the present world. An up-tempo, thumping beat courtesy of drummer Andy Hurley makes it easy to imagine this song altered mildly for the club scene.

9.      “Young Volcanoes” [4 stars]
The acoustic feel in this track’s verses came as a pleasant surprise. A sense of rebellion against the conventional remains with lyrics like “Tonight/The foxes hunt the hounds.” It’s another sweet summer track reminiscent of wild nights that will induce a headache the next morning.

10.  “Rat A Tat feat. Courtney Love” [3 stars]
Any song that starts with the phrase “It’s (insert celebrity name here), b--ch“ gets an automatic eye roll from me. The fact that the celebrity in name is Courtney Love doesn’t help. The chorus, which reads, “We’re all fighting growing old” serves as a reminder that the band has been around for a solid decade now. Unfortunately, there is a track on this album that dropped the ball, and it’s “Rat A Tat.” 

11.  “Save Rock And Roll feat. Elton John” [4.5 stars]
That’s right. Elton John.
Sir Elton’s voice mixes surprisingly well with Stump’s on the album’s title track. “Save Rock And Roll” closes the album with a ballad-style response to “The Phoenix.” In the style of other bands under the Decaydance label and previous albums, remnants of older songs from previous albums bring a sense of nostalgia to longtime fans. “Save Rock And Roll” brings the album to a solid close and, I imagine, will bring fans together beautifully if it’s performed live.

“Save Rock And Roll” is available on iTunes — and the number-one album on their chart — and at Target for $9.99, but expect the price of a hard copy to rise to $13.99 at most retailers. I hope to see some of you when FOB plays at the Showbox Sodo on June 19.