The new Fall Out Boy album, Save rock and Roll, came out a few weeks ago after five long years. Having listened to it about a half dozen times now, I figured I had a good enough handle on it for a review. For context, I enjoyed the last three albums. I enjoyed Folie à Deux the most – I felt it was the peak of their maturity both musically and lyrically. (According to a recent Rolling Stone article, I’m in the minority)
This album overall has a dance anthem feel to it. There were danceable elements to previous albums, but this one really seems to go for a dance rhythm.
The Phoenix – The album starts off extremely strong, setting the tone. I really enjoy this song.
My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light Em Up) – Lyrically, this song is the first to sound more like the older albums, although the music continues to be more of a dance vibe than previous songs. It’s a great first single since it is pretty representative of the rest of the album.
Alone Together – I’ve long been a sucker for call and response songs. So I love the chorus with: Say Yeah (Yeah)/Let’s Be Alone Together (Yeah). While still maintaining the energy of the album as a whole, this is the first song that sounds musically like the previous albums.
Where Did the Party Go – But right after that similar sounding song, we jump right back into the dance anthems. It makes sense considering it’s called Where Did the Party Go. Interestingly, I find the song to lyrically be similar to the old Panic! At the Disco songs, while seeming like a song you’d throw on at a party.
Just One Yesterday (featuring Foxes) – I like the use of the corny pickup line as the root of this song. “Anything you say can and will be held against you/Say my name and it will be held against you”. While, they have had some collaborations like Jay-Z in the past, this album seems to have the most use of guest singers. Foxes makes a GREAT contribution here, similar to Kina Grannis on I Fight Dragon’s With You. She contributes both background vocals and a verse.
The Mighty Fall (featuring Big Sean) – This is a great. bombastic song that I could see a lot of people playing as an FU song to others. I’m not a huge fan of Big Sean’s part, but it’s not horrible.
Miss Missing You – Another huge song, this time a carrying-the-torch song. The biggest theme of this album is HUGE sound. This is not a subtle albm.
Death Valley – The pace picks up a bit from the song and then drops everything but acoustic guitar for a quarter of a verse. The music is in top form on this album. They’re not afraid to go from an all out musical assault to as sparse as possible if that’s what the song needs at the moment including guitar distortion at the end.
Young Volcanoes – A milder anthem that could almost be an easy listening track. It’s the mildest track on here and I swing back and forth between enjoying it (especially for the lyrics) and hating it for sounding so bubble-gum. But the one song I truly dislike is the next one.
Rat a Tat (featuring Courtney Love) – Maybe I’m a bit poisoned by Danielle’s almost vitriolic hatred of Courtney Love, but I really don’t like this song. I don’t like the disorganized and almost discordant sound of the song. Which sucks because, as with the previous song, I actually like the Fall Out Boy-sung lyrics. But the song just does nothing for my ears.
Save Rock and Roll (featuring Elton John() – This is the final track and I think it ends perfectly. While there an always be a case made for ending an album on an exciting note, I think it’s always nice to end an album on an introspective note. Not only that, but Elton John’s contribution is the best collaboration on the album.
I think with this album, Fall Out Boy has both reinvented themselves while remaining true enough to transition those of us who are older fans over to this new sound. I recommend it whether you’re a fan of their old stuff or stayed away (as I did for too long) because you didn’t identify with “emo” or thought they were a band for teen and pre-teen girls to listen to. If we can keep getting strong albums like this, 2013 is going to be a great year for music.