Fall Out Boy
American Beauty/American Psycho


4.0
excellent

Review

by beachdude USER (36 Reviews)
January 13th, 2015 | 331 replies


Release Date: 01/20/2015 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Believers never die.

It’s a story you’ve heard a million times before, with a slightly different ending. A hugely popular mainstream band sees their seemingly unstoppable career momentum grind to a screeching halt, due to forces largely beyond their control. Whether it’s due to changing musical tastes, a genre loosing its mainstream appeal, creative missteps or pure bad luck - something doesn’t go according to plan, and the band falls out of favor because of it, often in spectacularly dramatic fashion. In this case, the victims in question are Chicago pop punk stalwarts Fall Out Boy, and the story seems particularly cliched and predictable. As the pop punk genre fell out of fashion in the waning years of the 2000’s, the band fought to combat irrelevancy by releasing the experimental, multi-faceted Folie a Deux, an album that flopped spectacularly on a commercial level, widely dismissed by casual and hardcore fans alike. This led to internal tensions within the group that eventually manifested themselves in an indefinite hiatus.

For most bands, that would be the only part of the story worth mentioning. Oh, there would be the eventual cash-in reunion tour to ride the coattails of nostalgia, but nothing notable would come of it other than paychecks. However, Fall Out Boy’s reunion actually produced new music of consequence, and even more improbably, it was nearly as successful as that of their peak. And yet, their detractors would say that they never really came back… those critics argue Fall Out Boy’s new music was successful only in that it co-opted mainstream trends that had taken hold in the group’s absence, and the only way they managed to still have a career at all was by abandoning everything that gave them their own unique identity. Fall Out Boy had “sold out” in the most blatant manner imaginable. End of story, close the chapter, move on to the next book.

But it’s not really that simple, is it" How is it that four pop punk kids from Illinois, members of a group that was derided by so many as “just another emo band”, are so attuned to pop culture that they managed to disappear for nearly half a decade and then reemerge to a level of sustained success that rivals their peak" How is it that “just another emo band” can go straight to #1 on the charts with their comeback album, and then have the follow-up to that comeback album be forecasted to also hit #1" In short, how"

Well dear reader, I’ll tell you how. Fall Out Boy are some of the most clever pop scholars currently operating in the music business today, and their continued success is not an accident. Beneath all the tabloid headlines, woefully inaccurate genre labels and fat frontman jokes, lies four incredibly well rounded musicians and students of the art form of popular music. These men know what it takes to have a hit song, and they have known since the beginning. The same quirky sensibility and penchant for great melodies that made Take This to Your Grave and From Under the Cork Tree pop punk classics is in effect on American Beauty / American Psycho, and it grounds the band’s most sonically diverse album to date in the same foundation that has led to success throughout their career - the great songwriting. As soon as the opening trumpets announce the start of “Irresistible”, one thing is clear - this is Fall Out Boy’s well-deserved victory lap, their call to arms to all the fans whose band of choice was written off by seemingly everyone, even those within the pop punk genre. The message is loud and clear: There are a million reasons to dislike this band, to tell yourself why they shouldn’t matter. This album is a celebration of all the reasons they do matter, and will for a long time to come. From the soaring vocal hook on “Novocaine”, to the Beach Boys-tinged guitar line on the infinitely danceable “Uma Thurman”, to the emotional sucker punch of “The Kids Aren’t Alright”, this is an album that’s comfortable in its own shoes and is a distillation of the core elements that make up great Fall Out Boy songs - clever Pete Wentz lyrical twists, amazing (and improved) vocals from Patrick Stump, and great melodies - spread over a significantly wider sonic canvas. These tracks are full of quirky twists and turns in a way that was largely absent on Save Rock and Roll, and the album is better for it.

The huge pop hooks present throughout are undeniable, and they are anchored by characteristically strong verses, complete with some of the most passionate vocal performances Patrick Stump has ever delivered on record. Perhaps surprisingly, the emotional centerpiece of the record isn’t in one of the many high-energy anthems, but in the slower build of “The Kids Aren’t Alright”, in many ways the best track this band has written since their hiatus. The lyrics are on a basic level about giving a former lover a new chance, but they can also be interpreted as a love letter to the band’s loyal fans. The song starts on a melancholy, hopeless note:

“Stuck in the jet wash
Bad trip I couldn’t get off
And maybe I bit off more than I could chew
And overhead of the aqua blue”

This moment represents the band members’ collective low point, after Folie a Deux had flopped and they had gone their separate ways, dejected and jaded, leading unsuccessful solo careers. Yet despite all of their self-doubt and cynicism towards the music industry, capped off in an infamous 2012 blog post by Patrick Stump in which he bemoaned being a “27 [year old] has-been” (http://www.absolutepunk.net/showthread.php"t=2649172), the song builds to a triumphant hook:

“And in the end
I’d do it all again
I think you’re my best friend
Don’t you know that the kids aren't all, kids aren’t alright"”

Despite being chewed up and spit out by popular culture, their life’s work being made into a big punchline, the members of Fall Out Boy decided they would do it all again, because they knew there are still kids out there who wanted their favorite band back, who had supported their musical heroes through every setback, even turning Folie a Deux into a cult classic. They are the reason this band still exists, and this record is the band’s way of saying thank you. Coming from a group whose comeback seemed incredibly unlikely a mere two years ago, American Beauty / American Psycho signals loud and clear that the story of Fall Out Boy is still going strong.



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user ratings (658)
Chart.
2.1
poor
other reviews of this album
1 of
  • cmaitland421 (3)
    The next step in Fall Out Boy's pop evolution...

    brandontaylor (2)
    Fall Out Boy want you to remember them for centuries, but you'll want to forget about this...

    heyitsderkk (2.5)
    The kids are alright. Not good, not bad, just...alright....

    CemeteryDrive (2.5)
    This isn't a horrible record-- but coming from what were once the quirky torchbearers of p...

  • Green Baron (1.5)
    If just one mistake is all it will take, then Fall Out Boy have clearly done far too much....

    Goldfinch13 (2.5)
    More psychotic than beautiful...

    Ben Kupiszewski (1.5)
    "We can be immortals! Immmmmmmortals!" No, Patrick. You and the boys are still far-flung f...

    SweeneyTodd (2.5)
    Fall Out Boy delve further into their new crappy-pop sound...

  • TheCalebRobinson (1.5)
    Fall Out Boy's follow up to the great 'Save Rock and Roll' is the textbook definition of a...



Comments:Add a Comment 
beachdude
January 13th 2015


846 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

The album is streaming here starting today... the band is adding one track per hour throughout

the day until the full album is available:

http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLa4gBFCX40OpzEJXbbbwmVr4jp47IH3Xb

Snake.
January 13th 2015


21500 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

But it’s not really that simple, is it? How is it that four pop punk kids from Illinois, members of a group that was derided by so many as “just another emo band”, are so attuned to pop culture that they managed to disappear for nearly half a decade and then reemerge to a level of sustained success that rivals their peak? How is it that “just another emo band” can go straight to #1 on the charts with their comeback album, and then have the follow-up to that comeback album be forecasted to also hit #1? In short, how?






this doesn't say anything about why the album is good

BMDrummer
January 13th 2015


14473 Comments


probably horrible

TheSupernatural
January 13th 2015


1817 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

inb4shitstorm

Gyromania
January 13th 2015


26596 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

wtf? had no idea this was even coming out

Tunaboy45
January 13th 2015


16708 Comments


Sabrina don't just stare at it, eat it.

thacoconut94
January 13th 2015


1497 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'm a massive fall out boy fan and have this pre ordered and after hearing all the material released from it I have absolutely no expectations

Hurricanslash
January 13th 2015


1830 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Goooooooooooood album! I'm really glad that you reviewed it, and not someone else.

Have a pos.

StallionMang
January 13th 2015


8926 Comments


Good review man, pos

Still betting this album sucks jumbo wieners tho

RunOfTheMill
January 13th 2015


3943 Comments


surprised there was no mention of "Centuries". Considering how much this review is a look at their career, legacy and future, it's kinda ironic you wouldn't talk about that song, its success, and how its lyrics could have so obviously fit in your review

Trebor.
Staff Reviewer
January 13th 2015


56398 Comments


a ringaduck compton chocolate 'n' puddin'

MUNGOLOID
January 13th 2015


4496 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5 | Sound Off

none of the songs off this album have been fun listens so far.



Edit - Yeah, fuck this album.

Mutantsnowstorm
January 13th 2015


504 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

Really well written review



That being said, I can't find it in me to truly enjoy their new music. I give them major credit for managing to stay relevant and knowing how to craft a decent pop record, but this album just isn't for me

trackbytrackreviews
January 13th 2015


3377 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Dat 2.2

OwMySnauze
January 13th 2015


1915 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Moar like Stump and his backing band of barely playing instruments

Digging: Ghost Iris - Apple Of Discord

Supercoolguy64
January 13th 2015


8794 Comments


dat rating chart

Hedgehog32396
January 13th 2015


577 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

all the songs released before sucked so that only leaves like half the album with decent songs

this is a 2.5 at most

Brostep
Staff Reviewer
January 13th 2015


4467 Comments


Yeah it's a solid review but it just says that they know how to make a catchy pop song and how to market themselves and how they've got what it takes to dominate the radio. That can be applied to like any media-darling pop star that churns out crappy album after album. I'd like to hear more of how the music's good rather than how catchy/accessible it is. I mean, you do a little bit but you skim over it and focus on, yeah, the bands legacy rather than what supposedly warrants their legacy


see, I'm not totally sure that the review completely equates "catchy pop song" with "good." as far as I can tell its central argument is that this is not just any old Katy Perry run-of-the-mill pop album, but a return to form from some of the best creators of pop music in the past fifteen years or so. though I have yet to listen to this, I would definitely agree that invoking FOB's storied pop history (and, yes, some of their older albums are straight genius) is a fair move if this is anything like their older material. I think dismissing something just because it's catchy and poppy (as much of their new - and, let's be honest, their old - material is/was) is an unfair critique - they know how to market themselves, sure, and their music is (and has always been) accessible, but I'd think that's more good than bad. like, it might just be yet another phase, but I'm at the point where I'm past dismissing something just because it's catchy and goes down like caramel - I think that this review comes from that same pop-centric perspective, and given that frame of reference it does a fine job analyzing why the album does well. I don't think it's necessary to provide extra evidence as to why something is good just because it's pop.

but then again I gave Nicki Minaj's new album a 4.1 so w/e

beachdude
January 13th 2015


846 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

I think dismissing something just because it's catchy and poppy (as much of their new - and, let's be honest, their old - material is/was) is an unfair critique - they know how to market themselves, sure, and their music is (and has always been) accessible, but I'd think that's more good than bad.


Thanks man... I think I could've made it more clear in the review, but I tried to make the point that the reason these guys are still successful is that their songwriting chops are able to cross genres and push the band itself into continued relevancy when it would've otherwise continued to lose steam like many of their pop punk contemporaries. I think Panic at the Disco could be an apt comparison - they've attempted roughly the same transformation to less commercially successful results - why is that? I think it's because Fall Out Boy understand what they're trying to do better and are better AT it. I thought of putting some of this in the review but the damn thing was already long enough.



I think that this review comes from that same pop-centric perspective, and given that frame of reference it does a fine job analyzing why the album does well. I don't think it's necessary to provide extra evidence as to why something is good just because it's pop.


Yeah, I've honestly never went into that level of analysis in most of my other reviews either, and I never got attacked for it. Maybe that's on me for being lazy, but I do think it's interesting that this is the only time I've gotten so much criticism for it.

Green Baron
January 13th 2015


24430 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

the only song i like is the closer



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