Fall Out Boy Somewhere Between Sophomore Slump And Comeback Of The Year

3.5 stars

Fall Out Boy made a comeback in the pop-punk world in 2013 with Save Rock and Roll and returns to the charts this week with American Beauty / American Psycho. The group originally had gone into a hiatus when the group members felt the need to rediscover themselves away from the band, and came back in strong form.

Despite having a solo career, lead singer Patrick Stump was hit hard with a bout of depression during Fall Out Boy’s off period. The group got back together after Stump met up with the band’s primary songwriter and bassist Pete Stump. After the break, the band first released Save Rock and Roll, an album inspired by and driven by a desire to save a of generation of music. In its new album, American Beauty / American Psycho, the band showcases a musical variety it hasn’t always displayed.

The album features 11 tracks that all vary a bit in musical style and vocals, but one can categorize each song. Some of the songs fall into a more cookie-cutter Fall Out Boy pattern, creating a repetitiveness that wears on the listener. “Irresistible,” “Novocaine,” and “Favorite Record” all fall into this aforementioned structure. Unfortunately, these songs seemed to feature much more of the usual boy band aesthetic one usually hears on mainstream radio.

Folks turn to Fall Out Boy expecting a more original sounding track. The band has set itself within the mainstream, but also apart from other pop bands. In American Beauty / American Psycho, the band slides away from what originality that album might have once had. Stump’s voice is rendered auto-tuned and less distinguishable from most of the songs that he usually sings. The music also heavily relies on his vocal and lyricism rather than instrumentation at parts, which at times can sound rather cacophonous.

Fortunately, most of the album sounds more like American Beauty and not so much American Psycho. For instance, “Immortals”—which was recently featured in the Disney film Big Hero 6—is a good addition to the album since it shows more of the “rock and roll” revival that the band has been trying to achieve. It contains more of the different types of sounds and the powerful rock chords for which Fall Out Boy is known.

“Centuries,” which was released last year as well, is featured on the album and showcases Stump’s powerful voice in cohort with rising instruments. Other stand-out songs in  the album include: “American Beauty / American Psycho,” “Twin Skeleton’s,” and “Uma Thurman.” “American Beauty/American Psycho” combines a 90s pop with rock elements and unlike the other songs on the album, the use of guitar is distinguishable. “Twin Skeleton’s” invokes an eerie feeling while still coming across as a rock song. “Uma Thurman” references back to part of a sound clip of the show “The Munsters.” The song combines the 1960s sitcom loop with the more modern sounds of Fall Out Boy by singing about Uma Thurman of Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill fame. There is a catchy and upbeat feeling to the song with a nostalgic, cartoony feel.

After evaluating the album, there are a few songs that aren’t that original, but there are many songs that make up for the cookie cutters and will probably define the landscape for the pop-punk rock community in the coming year.