Fall Out Boy

Save Rock And Roll

Written by: TL on 13/04/2013 14:13:16

There are some bands, when you talk or write about them, you get the eerie feeling that you're revealing as much about yourself through your attitude, as you are about the band that you're discussing. The recently defunct My Chemical Romance had that kind of impact, and so does the recently revived Fall Out Boy. I know because I caught myself several times, writing the review of their reunion album "Save Rock And Roll" in my head long before I'd heard the whole thing, yet long after the record had become an internet conversation piece.

There are simply so many aspects to discuss related to the band's evolution from pop-punk myths of the young millenium, to the mega-pop of the next level production Butch Walker has helped them build on "Save Rock And Roll". Waste no time dwelling on it: The Fall Out Boy that aligned with bands like New Found Glory on 2003's pop-punk evergreen "Take This To Your Grave" is a sound of the past. Instead "Save Rock And Roll" presents a layered, sparkling, booming sound - a heavy pop that marries the energy and urgency of rock music to the flamboyantly modern immediacy of pop music, and ironically, I've come away from it wondering whether it's rock or pop that ends up more saved.

The fighting talk of the album title is carried over in the opening one-two of "The Phoenix" and "My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark", a pairing of super-charged battle cries that overwhelm at first, yet soon have me converted mainly by the gorgeous dynamics of their attention-grabbing pre-choruses. A long time fan of the band's, I soon notice that while Fall Out Boy have traditionally protected their songs with an angsty, self-aware angle, "Save Rock And Roll" immediately takes a much more resolute stand, seeming to say "We've lived and loved and lost and now we're done having doubts. We have these things to say, take it or leave it".

If "Save Rock And Roll" has a problem then, it's in what it has sacrificed when the band committed wholly to the commanding rhythms, booming electronics and sheer bombast of a song like "Alone Together". For while Patrick Stump exhibits new heights of vocal aptitude, you can't help but to feel like the song would've had more urgency if it had been a bit more like the intimate emo of old, and less like the stadium-size of now. Similarly, the band's detractors can find more ammunition in the lacklustre hook and chorus of "Where Did The Party Go", the first song the band has written in years that I think is mostly below their standards.

The band's secret weapon however, even when their ideas limp slightly, is in bassist/lyricist Pete Wentz's persistent ability to turn an ear-popping phrase. Argue all you want about coherency and crypticness, the fact remains that when he lends words to Stump's increasingly remarkable melodies and near-perfect enunciation, more often than not you'll find an unforgetable bit to draw you back, even to weaker moments like "Where Did The Party Go". Again, the prechorus seems the key to finding love for the song. - Meanwhile, the Wentz/Stump combination only reveals more and more of its potency as we move on to talking about the album's stronger songs, with "Just One Yesterday" and "Miss Missing You" gaining depth and vulnerability from lines like "I'd trade all my tomorrows for just one yesterday" and "baby you were my picket fence, I miss missing you now and then" and "sometimes before it gets better, the darkness gets bigger, the person that you'd take a bullet for is the one behind the trigger".

Those however, are just the moments that win on closer inspection. Where "Save Rock And Roll" really packs its most immediate punches is in the tracks that feature the album's guests - although it's not always because of the guests. The badass riff and sharply spit lyrics of "The Mighty Fall" build up perfectly to the outrageous swag of Big Sean's in your face: "hell yeah I'm a dick girl, I'm addicted to you", yet Courtney Love on the other hand, is little more than a controversial gimmick on a "Rat A Tat" which would always have been a breath-taking fist-pumper in its own right, giving My Chemical Romance's infamous "Na Na Na" a run for its money.

And then there is of course the massive title track and album closer, which sends shivers down my spine and blows me out of the water long before the appearance of Sir Elton John, courtesy of the distorted samples from the classic "Chicago Is So Two Years Ago" and of Stump's surge of rage as he cries out Wentz' confessional "I cried tears you never now, so fuck you, you can go cry me an ocean and let me be". The entire song tugs violently at the fans' heartstrings and resolves the album as a whole, as a new beginning more than a last rodeo. Fall Out Boy could have closed the book on the band as overachievers already, but with "Save Rock And Roll" they seem to say that they want to become the stuff of legends or burn up trying. And me realising how even low points like "Where Did The Party Go" or "Death Valley" quickly grow more interesting than the vast majority of things out there, I still find myself onboard to burn up with them.

Download: The Phoenix, Rat A Tat, My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark, Save Rock And Roll
For The Fans Of: Panic! At The Disco, Marianas Trench, Fun, Say Anything, My Chemical Romance
Listen: facebook.com/falloutboy

Release Date 16.04.2013

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