For several months leading up to the announcement that Fall Out Boy had returned from its “indefinite hiatus”, I was writing “desperately awaiting a Fall Out Boy reunion” in all of my social media site biographies. I’ve been obsessed with this band since I was in high school and have referred to its members as “my forever boys” for years.
I can’t say that I’ve been listening to Fall Out Boy since the band first launched onto the pop punk scene with Take This to Your Grave in 2003, because I haven’t. I got into FOB after the release of From Under the Cork Tree in 2005, because the boy I was in love with in high school mentioned the band’s name one afternoon in English. Somehow, that seems an appropriate introduction to this band, given that lyricist and bassist Pete Wentz capitalizes on love, heartbreak and loss for the majority of the band’s over-the-top poetic song lyrics.
On Tuesday, April 16, Fall Out Boy released Save Rock and Roll, its first studio album in five years. Originally slated to release on May 6 (which would mark the 10 year anniversary of Take This to Your Grave), the album dropped a month early. It was also available to stream on SoundCloud a week before its official release. Streaming the album was an experience in and of itself — the first listen left me in tears, not just because my favorite band is back with a new album (and tour!) but because the album is just incredibly powerful.
Save Rock and Roll is packed to the brim with anthems. It starts with “The Phoenix”, a high-flying and emotionally resonant rock anthem about youth and rebellion: “Put on your war paint!” is one of many catch phrases that have already been born from the album — and surely, there are many more to come. It closes with title track “Save Rock and Roll”, which features the vocal and piano talents of Sir Elton John, a bold closer in many ways. The song feels like a sequel to 2008’s “What a Catch, Donnie” and references several past FOB songs, while also flipping the bird to any and all of the band’s many negative critics.
This album makes me feel like I’m on a rollercoaster with the highest peaks in the world — ones that drop you only to pick you up again, just take you higher and higher with each sharp curve. Guest vocalists like Big Sean and Courtney Love add hip hop and punk flairs to the album that bring it to a whole new level from anything Fall Out Boy has done in the past. And though this record is very different and far more musically sound than the band’s previous four studio albums, Save Rock and Roll still boasts many of the elements that make Fall Out Boy the band it’s always been.
Patrick Stump’s vocals have advanced significantly since FOB’s first album — his voice is distinctive and chill-inducing, his range incredibly admirable. Nowhere is that showcased better than on Save Rock and Roll, which gives Stump the ability to soar. When he’s not screaming in anger on “The Phoenix” and “Save Rock and Roll”, he’s getting deep and a little jazzy on “Just One Yesterday” or invoking past FOB hits with lengthy high notes and catchy choruses.
Wentz’s lyrics are as over the top and metaphorical as usual, but they still hit in the same way they always have. Tracks like “Alone Together” evoke a kind of nostalgia that can only be experienced by consistency in a band’s approach to theme and sound; others, like “The Mighty Fall”, hit you in the chest with just the right amount of force.
This album delves into genres that I never would have expected FOB to seriously explore, but the electronica influences that Stump featured heavily on his solo efforts and the hip hop vibes Wentz has been straying toward his entire career make for a very interesting listening experience without lessening any of the things that have made me love this band from the start. I’ve loved watching these boys grow and learn and advance and this album combines the best of all of them — Stump, Wentz, guitarist Joe Trohman and drummer Andy Hurley. (My forever boys.)
I’m seriously impressed with this album and I cannot wait to see the band play songs from it live at the House of Blues in Boston on May 26. It’ll be my second time seeing Fall Out Boy live — the first time was when they opened for blink-182 on the 2009 reunion tour, just before FOB announced its hiatus. It’s going to be a fucking fantastic show, especially with these new songs to add to the set list.
Welcome back, boys. I’ve missed you.