Fall Out Boy - Save Rock & Roll Review


rating: 5

It€™s been a long four years for many a Fall Out Boy fan. After the grossly under-received Folie a Deux, it was no surprise that the jittery four-piece decided to go down swinging. What was a surprise was when the band announced a surprise comeback album just two months ago. Complete with the rather pretentious title Save Rock & Roll. But you€™ve got to admire them. There are few bands around these days who would have the guts to make this bold claim over an album that features an up-and-coming pop star and a rapper on vocals. Nevertheless, in an age when rock and roll is a genre buried deep beneath the power of computers, you can€™t really expect it to be saved by a tribute to days gone by. Fall Out Boy recognise that it€™s out with the old, in with the new. What Patrick Stump and Pete Wentz do best on this effort is a seamless flow between their traditional punk sound and completely unexpected new territory. The album opens with a synth track lifted straight from an epic battle scene in a war film. The band makes their statement from the first moments. €œPut on your war paint€ cries Stump with a vocal clarity rivalling their previous efforts with ease. No doubt a result of his recent dance record Soul Punk. Wentz and company are ready to take on their critics with tough gusto. And if The Phoenix is the album€™s battle march then the second track is undoubtedly its national anthem. The album€™s first single My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light Em Up) is a call back to classic Fall Out Boy. The band roll out a typical call and response formula. It may not bring anything new to their style but the song will definitely be a fan favourite throughout the subsequent arena tour. Alone Together starts with vocals that almost sound auto-tuned and the call outs of €œlet€™s be alone together€ are reminiscent of the modern dance track. But despite this, their traditional pop punk manner is still hidden beneath the surface. This first major genre blend of the album predicts good things. Where Did The Party Go is a much more manic track with an aggressive punk undertone. The bass line is the kind of thing DJs would dream of if they still cared for rock music. It€™s not as strong as the preceding three tracks but after a few listens you won€™t be forgetting it. Perhaps one of the biggest feats of the album is the ability to maintain a rock and roll theme in spite of some questionable guest vocalists. I may be a little biased due to my love of young talent Foxes but this song quickly became my favourite. The opening moments borrow unceremoniously from Adele€™s Rolling In The Deep before recalling the traditional style of the band. The chorus carries the song into an entirely new level of rock magic as Stump€™s sly vocals flirt with the pop whispers of Foxes. The pairing seems perfectly natural. You€™ve got to admire the kind of ambition that produces this music. Pushing the limit even further is The Mighty Fall which features young rapper Big Sean. The song quickly gets down to business with a very hip-hop yet very punk cooing of €œoh, oh, oh€. The song doesn€™t really cover much new ground except for the very notable moment that Big Sean takes the microphone. The transition from love burned Stump€™s wailing to Sean€™s wit-infused staccato is nothing short of awe inspiring. The lyrics are particularly memorable. Wentz was clearly on a role on this one; you can€™t help but smile a little as Big Sean belts out tongue-in-cheek lyrics such as €œhell yeah I€™m a dick, I€™m addic-ted to you€. Miss Missing You recalls the sounds of Fueled By Ramen label-mates Panic At The Disco and Cobra Starship quite nicely. It€™s nice filler that fits into the album€™s genre experimenting style very well. Perhaps most notable are its stinging, pessimistic lyrics €œsometimes the person you€™d take a bullet for is behind the trigger€. But the song is catchy and worth keeping in your iTunes, even if it lacks the ambition of the tracks preceding it. The next track Death Valley is certainly a fun little track but is largely forgettable in the context of what surrounds it. Young Volcanoes is perhaps the biggest enigma of the album. Recalling the runaway success of new pop sensation Fun, the band runs with the current trend towards happy-go-lucky folk rock. And it€™s hard not to get to the chorus without becoming reminiscent of We Are Young (let€™s pray it achieves the same success). The song certainly gives us a side of the band we haven€™t seen before. Wentz seems to be calling his fans out to simply have fun without any of the serious stuff; €œdon€™t you wanna feel a little beautiful baby?€ Rat a Tat sits in stark contrast to Young Volcanoes. At first the questionable choice of Courtney Love on vocals seems like the equivalent of a skipped record. But you quickly recognise just what the band is trying to do as the band€™s punk rock backing takes control. If Where Did The Party Go is manic, this is a song shot full of speed. And by the time Love comes back into the mix you realise that her repulsive, dirty image meshes well with the rest of the song. Even if you€™re not a fan of Love (like me) you€™re unlikely to resist the excellent and very catchy chorus. The band round out with the solid title track Save Rock & Roll. The band seems to take this one pretty seriously. You quickly realise as the opening drums are stomped out that Wentz, Stump, Trohman and Hurley are playing in the wake of more than just the preceding ten tracks. They are reflecting their entire careers. A sample of early Fall Out Boy song Chicago Is So Two Years Ago plays in altered to invoke the soul of an early Kanye West mix. Stump starts out declaring to the ex-fans who have crucified their new material €œfuck you, you can go cry me an ocean and leave me be€. Elton John then swoops into provide the defining voice of maturity behind the record. His anthemic, ballad-ready voice reminds us that €œyou are what you love, not who loves you€. It seems that the whole point of this album is for Fall Out Boy to shout out to their self-proclaimed haters a message. We€™re not going anywhere. €œYou better lower your standards, cuz€™ it€™s never getting better than this€. And by the time the final synth track fades out along with Stump€™s strained voice you can€™t help but smile for them. They seem to be genuinely happy about what they€™re producing. I doubt this album will do much to change the future of any genre of music. But it many ways it does do what it promises. It gives you rock and roll like you€™ve never heard it before. It€™s genre bending. It€™s ambitious. It€™s a hell of a lot of fun. Are they the saviours rock and roll has been waiting for all these years? Probably not. But they do make a damn fine substitute.
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Matthew Murray is an 19 year old film student in New Zealand. He is addicted to music, movies, gaming and television and spends his time feeding the obsession! When he is not writing about these things, he is lining up for these things, talking to people about these things and sitting around dreaming about these things.