Fall Out Boy. I have always enjoyed your angsty teen anthems. Then you let Patrick Stump go and do his own thing, and it blew my mind. Seriously, Soul Punk may be one of my all time favorite albums. So, when a band I always enjoyed got back together after their singer released a masterpiece solo album, i was no doubt excited. Unfortunately for me, Fall Out Boy has really missed the mark in the worst ways. Now, before you start with the “you just cant handle change” bullshit know, I love change…when its done right. The problem with “most” of Save Rock and Roll is that the changes they made are the worst kind of changes (I’ll expand on this soon, I promise.) This 11 song, 41 minute long album, is too short, too poppy, too similar, and most importantly too stolen to really be the great album I wanted it to be. But, Does it Suck? Let us look further.
First off, there is obviously a huge change in their sound on this album and yes, it is not in any way going to “Save Rock and Roll.” I still don’t get how an album from a previously post-pop-punk-rock band gone more poppy could possibly save rock and roll, but whatever…its only the title of both the album and the biggest waste of a Elton John guest spot ever (more on that later). There are a lot more synths and beats. There is far more production than their earlier albums. But is this change substantial? I submit that it is not. They are still using the same arrangements and chords, the same simple pop-punk writing. The only difference is that as they continue, they lose more of their punk and gain more pop. The change is not surprising either. Adding a pop driven EDM flare to your music is about as cliché as you can get in today’s music. It is what is popular, so it does not surprise me that the changes they made fit perfectly with what is currently popular. So, yes this album does have a different collection of instruments than previous albums, but the timbre of the music is the same, and the changes are predictable and shallow.
As far as the songs themselves go, this is the first Fall Out Boy album to contain songs that I skip every time I listen to it. The Mighty Fall is just too much pop-rap nonsense for me to enjoy it and the rap absolutely hurts the song in every way. Just One Yesterday is boring and gets old very fast. Young Volcanoes is just too much of everything wrong in the pop industry for me to enjoy is formulaic summer-fun vibe. And Rat A Tat is just a giant mess. The arrangement is a disaster, the songwriting is the weakest on the album, the song is not catchy or interesting, and Courtney Love does not help anything. The album does have a few more interesting songs. My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark has grown on me a lot since I first heard it. Death Valleys obligatory dubstep breakdown is actually kind of fun. To their credit, songs like The Phoenix, Alone Together, Where Did the Party Go, and Miss Missing You are not only the strongest songs on the album, but they are what I would expect a more electronic Fall Out Boy to sound like. They retain those things that made their earlier songs interesting, while adding today’s pop flare without being overdone. These songs are the parts of the album I go back for, even if it means I have to hit the skip button a few times. But, outside of these songs, the album spends way too much time sounding like other things. The two worst offenders are Young Volcanoes and Just One Yesterday. When you hear Young Volcanoes start-up, you know they are trying to have the next “Hey Soul Sister” or “I’m Yours” or “We are Young”. From the chords to the arrangement, this song is full of used up clichés and patterns that leave it feeling hallow. Just One Yesterday starts off like a cover of Burning in the Deep, and then goes on to use the most overused chord progression on its boring and heartless chorus. Finally, if you are going to have Elton John be on a song, have him do something more interesting than the worlds most boring piano part and a boring second verse spot. Let the man play his piano. Take advantage of having such an incredible guy on your album.
Ultimately, I have listened to parts of this album a lot, which is why I can’t say that it completely sucks, but it is one of their weakest albums to date, and is especially disappointing on the heels of Patrick Stumps incredible solo album.