By Ronald Metellus
How do you go from being a Chicago punk rock act to the nation's most ubiquitous rock band in less than three years? Not easily. Fall Out Boy began as clever, angst-driven band; opening their albums with gems like "the ribbon on my wrist says, Do Not Open Before Christmas." The trouble, and the success, came when they started to ply this cleverness over grander production and to hybrid experiments, like collaborating with Lil Wayne during his rock phase--and somehow making that work.
Reconciling the tension between their catchy pop hooks with their Chicago punk background was the canon fodder that propelled Infinity on High and its follow-up, Folie A Deux. It was the same tension that made their hiatus seem natural; where Infinity begins with a knowing wink to their rise ("Make us poster boys for the scene, but we are not making an acceptance speech"), Folie found clever, catchy ways to hide their exasperation--"You can only blame your problems on the world for so long, before it all becomes the same old song." The song where the latter quote comes from is titled, "The (Shipped) Gold Standard," which is reliably tongue-in-cheek, but it's a reference to record label expectations. Guitarist Joe Trohman described touring behind Folie as "miserable" for some, while "others were just drunk." Patrick Stump caught the brunt of fan ire by himself when he took his solo project, Soul Punk, on the road. After the tour, Stump took to his blog and decried himself a "has-been" at 27 years old. He was shocked by "the kids that paid for tickets to my solo shows to tell me how much I sucked without Fall Out Boy." Their song about the infamous "27 Club" was looking less like sly a come-on about the dangers of fame and more like a real omen.
But time heals all wounds. I don't know if the punk rock faithful are back in tow for Save Rock And Roll, but the kids who grew up listening to their hits on the radio are a formidable bunch and a forgiving one, too. Top-40 radio listeners will find their fix in Save Rock and Roll --lyricist/bassist, Pete Wentz has cited fun. and Gotye as inspirations.
Unless Fall Out Boy's Evening Out With Your Girlfriend is your favorite FOB project, then the pop influences are a winning proposition. The appropriations of pop music are welcome, because Fall Out Boy sounds best when they're keeping busy. To borrow a theory from Rap Genius Editor-in-Chief, Shawn Setaro, Fall Out Boy is such a seminal band for our Attention Deficit Disorder-addled generation because they use simple pop structures and something in their arrangement changes every two or four bars. The more influences to cull from, the more rapid and sudden the changes in arrangement. Take "Just One Yesterday," that apes the opening chords of "Rolling In The Deep" for a short verse, before Stump breaks into a duet with pop upstart Foxes. Or take "Rat A Tat," with bridge that's as catchy as its chorus and mixing strong enough to accommodate Courtney Love's terrible lyrics.
Wentz's lyrics and Stump's croon remain at the center, channeling influences but never being overtaken by them. Save standout, "Young Volcanoes," may take cues from "We Are Young" (sample lyric: "We are like young volcanoes") but you're not going to a find a line like "we will teach you how to make boys next door out of assholes" on a fun record.
You'll find the lone remnant from their first album, Take This To Grave, on this album's title track. It's a sample of Stump's voice, pitched-high enough to go unrecognized. The sample is taken from a song called "Chicago Is So Two Years Ago;" appropriated here for a ballad featuring Elton John. Save Rock And Roll succeeds, as it convinces us that the band they used to be is so ten years ago.
Check out lyrics and annotations for Fall Out Boy's Save Rock And Roll on Stereo IQ:
1. Fall Out Boy - The Phoenix Lyrics
2. Fall Out Boy - My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light Em Up) Lyrics
3. Fall Out Boy - Alone Together Lyrics
4. Fall Out Boy - Where Did The Party Go Lyrics
5. Fall Out Boy - Just One Yesterday Lyrics
6. Fall Out Boy - The Mighty Fall Lyrics
7. Fall Out Boy - Miss Missing You Lyrics
8. Fall Out Boy - Death Valley Lyrics
9. Fall Out Boy - Young Volcanoes Lyrics
10. Fall Out Boy - Better Than This (Rat a Tat) Lyrics
11. Fall Out Boy - Save Rock and Roll Lyrics