Album Review: Fall Out Boy – Save Rock And Roll

Put On Your War Paint.

Four years on from their indefinite hiatus, Fall Out Boy’s rise and fall is quite a unique tale.

After gaining a small, loyal fanbase off of the early success of E.P’s and 2003’s ‘Take This To Your Grave‘, nothing could’ve prepared the quartet for what happened next. Subsequent albums ‘From Under The Cork Tree‘ and ‘Infinity On High‘ swept Fall Out Boy out from the shadows and into the arms of the mainstream. Those arms weren’t necessarily loving ones; tossed back and forth between genres, the band had found solid ground in the ’emo’ and pop-punk movements before moving on to more mainstream pastures with ‘Folie a Deux‘, an album that would do more dividing than conquering. Many fans just switched off, berating a band they supposedly loved for taking a step in a new(ish) musical direction.

The world wasn’t ready for ‘Folie a Deux’, but it wasn’t ready for a world where Fall Out Boy didn’t exist and so, the yearning for their long-awaited return has been brewing ever since.

Cue ‘Save Rock And Roll‘.

Recorded entirely in secret, away from the ears of fans and critics alike, ‘Save Rock And Roll’ is a record devoid of any caution, self-pity or boundaries. Its secrecy played right into Fall Out Boy’s hands, ensuring the weight of expectation had been completely lifted off their shoulders, it has freed the band into exploring new territory with reckless abandon.

One ought not to take the title too literally though, this isn’t straight-up rock ‘n roll. Pete Wentz has described ‘Save Rock And Roll’ as more of an ‘attitude, a perspective on life’. He also spoke of wanting to ‘bend genres’, which makes for FOB’s most ambitious album to-date.

‘The Phoenix’ kicks things off with a booming string section before erupting into a genre mashing juggernaut; themes of rebirth are rather fitting here, but it’s good to see FOB haven’t lost their taste for theatrics. Along with fellow single ‘My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light ‘Em Up)’, it’s evident that the band’s confidence is sky-high, especially via Patrick Stump‘s incredibly diverse and dynamic vocals. Their ‘genre-bending’ just would not be possible without his astonishing ability to weave in and out of rock, pop and hip-hop, he’s never sounded (or looked) better.

One of Fall Out Boy’s greatest strengths is their catchy hooks and melodies, and there is an abundance of them. ‘Alone Together’ is full to the brim with Hip-Hop breakdowns underneath a pop-fuelled rallying cry. Going with the flow of Hip-Hop, rapper Big Sean lends his talents to ‘The Mighty Fall’, surprisingly not sounding out of place over Joe Trohman and Stump’s dirty guitar riffs.

From embracing dubstep on ‘Death Valley’ to filling the dancefloor with ‘Where Did The Party Go’, Fall Out Boy’s ever apparent tenacity is infectious and very easy on the ears, almost delightful. However, if you’re looking for a musically true return to their punk/rock roots, those moments are scarce. ‘Rat A Tat’ is without doubt the most punk-rock track on ‘Save Rock And Roll’ and Courtney Love‘s anarchic blitz works well, announcing herself with a tongue-in-cheek, ‘It’s Courtney, bitch’.

Speaking of guest-stars, they don’t come much bigger than Elton John on the eponymous track ‘Save Rock And Roll’. Very much affirming Wentz’s thesis of rock and roll being an ‘attitude’, what we have here is an outstanding rock ballad about perseverance and staying true to yourself. It may be cliche, but it reflects on what the band have been through since their split four years ago.

Outstandingly, it’s the softer moments of ‘Save Rock And Roll’ that really take precedence. ‘Young Volcanoes’ all goes a bit Lion King, exploding into an uplifting acoustic beast that begs to be heard underneath a starry sky, whilst ‘Just One Yesterday’ marginally overshadows Elton’s cameo as Foxes provides the perfect backdrop for Stump before taking centre stage, showcasing her similar ability to harness more than one genre with her voice. The result is an exceptional collaboration and pop-rock ballad, provocatively aimed at critics and former fans who were hoping for a return to their previous sound – “Now I’m here to give you hope my love, so I can watch your face as I take it all away”.

With such an admirable attitude, it’s hard not to appreciate an album that pushes a band in and out of their comfort zone. Not only has their music progressed substantially, but Fall Out Boy have progressed as individuals. Oozing confidence and performing with a swagger, they’re finally making music for themselves as opposed to anyone else which benefits ‘Save Rock And Roll’ immensely. It is their most ludicrously enjoyable album; a pulsating thrill ride full of twists, turns, ups and downs that will thrill most FOB fans, but may be too fast for others.

4 Stars.

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