Fall Out Boy
American Beauty/American Psycho



by Chris Maitland USER (49 Reviews)
February 13th, 2015 | 13 replies

Release Date: 2015 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The next step in Fall Out Boy's pop evolution

Chicago quartet Fall Out Boy returned after a four year hiatus in 2013 and instantly reminded the world of the force they were in their heyday with their fifth studio album, Save Rock and Roll. Even more surprising than their resurgence in popularity or their ability to successfully write and record Save Rock and Roll in complete secrecy from both the general public and their record label was the fact that they had returned with an entirely revamped sound. The angst-ridden pop punk that had made them famous initially had been replaced by a brand of vintage pop that sounds like it came straight out of the '80s. Fall Out Boy continues their reinvention as a pure pop act on their latest LP, American Beauty/American Psycho, which serves as a nice albeit uneven blast of summer breeziness in the dead of winter.

A lot of the kinks that dragged down Save Rock and Roll have been worked out on American Beauty/American Psycho. Fall Out Boy is noticeably more comfortable with their pop identity here than they were on Save Rock and Roll. The band uses their enhanced confidence to take some bold risks on the early portion of the record and they mostly pay off. "Irresistible" combines infectious synths and horns to get the album off to a rollicking start while "Centuries" works in a sample of Suzanna Vega's 1987 hit "Tom's Diner" to bolster the track's arena-ready sound. Perhaps the most effective and definitely the oddest musical choice was the prominent use of a sample from the theme song of the '60s television series The Munsters on "Uma Thurman". In theory, it sounds like a head-scratching decision, but it somehow works perfectly with the eerie disco vibe of the track.

The success of Fall Out Boy's new sound lies mostly on the shoulders of vocalist Patrick Stump. Stump's soulful vocals make the hooks pop, and gives the majority of the songs on the album a refreshing blast of kinetic energy. Stump even makes the album's pair of otherwise mediocre power ballads ("The Kids Aren't Alright, "Jet Pack Blues") enjoyable with his tremendous harmonies and range. Stump's vocals were the biggest knock on Fall Out Boy during their early days, but he's easily been their biggest asset since they've returned from hiatus.

After a pretty successful start, the inconsistency that plagued Save Rock and Roll rears its ugly head on the second half of this album. "Favorite Record" sounds like a bad power pop cover of a Third Eye Blind or Matchbox Twenty song and "Immortals" gives "Alone Together" a serious run for the title of most obnoxious song in Fall Out Boy's catalog. On the aforementioned "Favorite Record" and "Immortals" as well as other lowlights "Fourth of July", and "American Beauty/American Psycho", Fall Out Boy seems to have completely disregarded the formula that makes the other 75% of the album work. The choruses fall flat, the electronic elements are grating and the liveliness that drives the earlier tracks is all but completely diminished. The fact that all of these songs (except the title track) appear on the back end of the album is a serious blow to the overall quality of American Beauty/American Psycho. Regardless of how strong an album starts, finishing an album with little-to-no momentum is one of the most unforgivable sins in the world of music, and American Beauty/American Psycho is a prime offender of this unwritten law.

While not without its miscues, American Beauty/American Psycho is still a relatively solid, fun listen on the whole. This is a band in the middle of a transitional phase as they try to find their niche in the traditional pop genre, and American Beauty/American Psycho demonstrates that they're headed in the right direction. So far, Fall Out Boy has defied the odds of a band returning from hiatus by coming back as a rejuvenated act that isn't afraid to venture out of their comfort zone. Now it's time to see if they can channel that energy and creativity into a record that is consistently enjoyable.

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Comments:Add a Comment 
February 13th 2015


Album Rating: 3.0

First review in a while. Comments/feedback are welcomed and encouraged.

February 13th 2015


VermLeEmperor sure seems like a fun new user!!

February 13th 2015


Okay, VermLeEmperor sure seems like a fun user!!

Nice review cmaitland421

February 13th 2015


Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

Good review, I hated this record when it released but it's been growing on me

Also favorite record is one of the best songs on here imo

February 13th 2015


Album Rating: 1.5 | Sound Off

An album this shitty doesn't deserve a review this well-written...


(Although in the last sentence, there should be an apostrophe on the word "its")

February 13th 2015


Sorry if I look like a crazy asshole in this thread, VermLeEmperor deleted his dumb as fuck comments

February 13th 2015


Outstanding review here, Chris. Thumbs up from me. Very easy to sit back and read this review, your flow is awesome. I've never been a fan of Fall Out Boy, but your excellent review makes me want to give them another chance. Recently the only song I heard from them is that utterly annoying monstrosity known as "My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light 'Em Up)". I hated that song so much that it made me want to stay far... away from this band, but your review has reignited a bit of interest in me. Maybe I'll give their earlier works a shot at some point. Excellent work all the same, man.

February 13th 2015


Good review mate, pos

February 13th 2015


Album Rating: 2.5

No Hotel neg

February 13th 2015


Album Rating: 3.0

Thanks a lot for the kind words guys.

February 13th 2015


Album Rating: 2.0

Nice review, but man this album is poopy. I do like a couple of songs

February 14th 2015


I fail to see the relevance of this band to this day but, hey, at least I know it will be mediocre garbage now instead of 5/5 garbage?

February 14th 2015


Album Rating: 3.0

Damn, this is a good review. I liked a lot of the tracks you didn't like though =(

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