WNovember 20, 2009 ended in tragedy for punk-pop fans across the globe as one of the genre’s most revered bands announced an indefinite hiatus. That’s right- following the release of their first greatest hits album, “Believers Never Die”, pop-rockers Fall Out Boy announced that they were splitting off in order to try some new musical facets on for size. Lead vocalist Patrick Stump went on to record a pop album in the form of “Soul Punk”, which had a minor hit in the form of “This City” featuring rapper Lupe Fiasco, while bassist Pete Wentz formed experimental band The Black Cards and lead guitarist Joe Trohman and drummer Andy Hurley formed a metal group in the form of The Damned Things. At the end of the day, though, nothing could keep these four musicians apart, and they reformed once more come February 4, 2013, with the release of the music video for their latest single, “My Songs Know What You Do in the Dark”, featuring 2 Chainz.
The question now, though, upon the release of their first full album since returning from hiatus, “Save Rock and Roll”, is if it’s any good, especially when stacked up to the band’s masterpieces, like “From Under the Cork Tree”, which harbors some of their best-selling singles of all time. The answer, in short, is a sweet, simple “yes”- that old Fall Out Boy magic is there, and it’s even more refined than ever. “Save Rock and Roll” is revolutionary, and introduces a new Fall Out Boy that is a little edgier, a little more diverse, and a lot more intense.
The first songs that listeners would probably shoot for on the album are the collaboration pieces- “Just One Yesterday”, featuring indie artist Foxes, “The Mighty Fall”, featuring MC Big Sean, “Rat a Tat”, featuring Hole frontwoman Courtney Love, and the titular “Save Rock and Roll”, featuring none other than the legendary Elton John. Each of these songs are great in their own right and help to introduce new sides of the band that haven’t necessarily been seen before. Every featured artist makes sense, when given the content of each track. Big Sean offers an extra swagger to his very clearly 90’s hip-hop/rock-influenced featured track while Foxes helps bring new depth from out of Patrick’s voice with her own nuanced soul on their pseudo–“Rolling in the Deep” track. On the other side of things, Courtney Love offers “Rat a Tat” some of that extra anarchistic “oomph”, and Elton John is nothing more than a master of his own class, and to hear him on his trademark piano exchanging lines with an incredibly passionate Patrick Stump is history-making in itself and provides for an amazing closer.
The album opens with “The Phoenix”, which is a lot like a love letter to those who have rode along with the band thus far on their musical journey. It opens with a booming string section that really helps to back-up my earlier statement about “Save Rock and Roll” kicking up the intensity of Fall Out Boy’s sound more than just a few notches, and it’s absolutely fantastic in production. Patrick’s cutting vocals are set on their extreme level of grit, here, and the sensible aggressiveness that we haven’t really heard from him before this album is much appreciated. On the flip-side, the dubstep/R&B-influenced, “Death Valley”, harks back to Patrick’s own “Soul Punk” and offers a nice conglomeration of musical concepts between he and the other members of the band, creating a fiery rock-pop fusion of the modern era. The instrumentals are lush and unique. The most interesting, and arguably the very best song on the album, however, is the sweet acoustic showing of “Young Volcanoes”, which has the potential to be just as successful as something along the lines of Ed Sheeran’s “The A-Team”. After all, it’s just as catchy- if not even more-so.
On a closing note, Wentz, Trohman, and Hurley all have to be commended – their instrumentations here are incredible throughout the entire album! It’s very obvious that they’ve become exponentially better at their craft. To Patrick- thank you for always having a stunning vocal, with loads of depth throughout the entire album. As a fan through and through, thank you for all of the nostalgia-inducing lyrical nods to your past songs too, in “The Phoenix” and “Save Rock and Roll”, in particular. All of this together makes the album’s ambiance real perfection.
At the end of the day, “Save Rock and Roll” is exactly the type of album that Fall Out Boy needed to keep relevant in the music industry whilst staying entirely true to themselves. From beginning to end, “Save Rock and Roll” is a masterpiece of the pop-punk world. Soaring choruses, wild anthems, signature lyrical style, driving instrumentals, and the introduction of entirely new elements to their sound featuring very worthy collaborators all help to reaffirm that point. When the ball drops in Times Square come New Year’s Day, 2014, “Save Rock and Roll” will still be going strong, playing on multiple fans’- many of them deservedly new -sound systems. It’s an absolutely brilliant creation, and one that the band probably couldn’t be any more proud of.
Fall Out Boy is back, baby!
It’s impossible to choose write in a Top 5 Songs section because every song has an agenda for being included on the album and for being a favorite of mine. In all actuality, “Save Rock and Roll” is comprised of what are easily the band’s 11 strongest set of tracks ever. I will say, however, that my two absolute favorites as of this moment are the bright and adventurous “Young Volcanoes” and the edgy, dark, and reflective “Just One Yesterday”.
Listen to a full stream of “Save Rock and Roll” for free, here.