Fall Out Boy

Album Title: 
Save Rock And Roll
Release Date: 
Sunday, June 16, 2013
Review Type: 

When my editor-in-chief suggested that I should review this album, I took on a frown, and tried to remember whether I'd ever done anything on this Emo Pop Rock band. The Chief feeling sure that I had, I took the CD home with mixed feelings, and have since found out that I never even got any of the guys' albums, let alone ever reviewed anything by 'em! However, former colleagues Guido Claes and Trik díd review the band's previous albums Folie A Deux and Infinity On High (posted respectively on 25/01/2009 and 10/02/2007, and still available for your scrutiny in this website's “Archive” section)...but neglected to incorporate any of the band's history. A lengthy job which now befalls my humble person, I guess!

Hailing from Wilmette, Illinois this band was formed in 2001 with a line-up including current members Patrick Stump (lead singer, main music composer, and also rhythm guitarist past 2003), Joe Trohman (lead guitar & backing vocals), Pete Wentz (bass, backing vocals & main lyricist) and rhythm guitarist/ backing singer T.J. “Racine” Kunasch & drummer Mike Pareskuwicz (these two left in 2003, the latter to be replaced by Andy Hurley – whom also performs backing vocals – and Stump picking up rhythm guitar to fill the sonic void), all of which had been active in the local Hardcore scene before. The band released it debut album Take This To Your Grave in 2003, and reached mainstream success with their 2005 major label album From Under The Cork Tree. That album won the band several awards and got a double Platinum certificate, selling 2,7 million albums in the US alone! Hey ho...just found out a late review of that album (or rather, a review of a late European issuing of the album) by Trik was posted 18/07/2006 (of course, it is also still available at this site's “Archive” section). Infinity On High followed to major chart success, debuting at #1 on the American Billboard 200 and getting top 5 chartings worldwide (most probably not in Belgium though, as our local market is frequently só dominated by the local humpa-pah, it fills my eyes with tears!). 2008's Folie A Deux was a further developing of the band's Emo Pop Rock stylings, and should've appealed to an even broader audience, but it did less well commercially than its predecessor (in spite of hosting a shit-list of guest performers including Elvis Costello, Debbie Harry, Lil Wayne, Pharrell Williams, Brendan Urie of Panic! At The Disco, Gabe Saporta of Cobra Starship, Tracis McCoy of Gym Class Heroes, Alex DeLeon of The Cab, and William Becket of The Acedemy Is...). Obviously, the major label's current crisis was already at work back then! Just to be complete, we would have to include the compilation album Believers Never Die – Greatest Hits, as it included two completely new songs An indefinite hiatus was announced in late 2009, not meant as a break-up, but rather as a period for the individual members to have a rest and do some things they had not found the time for due to FOB's success.

Trohman and Hurley formed the Heavy Metal Supergroup The Damned Things (other members included were Every Time I Die's Keith Buckley and Josh Newton, and Anthrax' Scott Ian and Rob Caggiano), and released their debut album Ironiclast in Dec. 2010. While continuing to run his own record label Fuck City, Hurley also became active in Hardcore act Burning Empires, as well as in more local Hardcore Punk and Heavy Metal bands. The Damned Things then went into an hiatus as well, as Every Time I Die and Anthrax were preparing to release new albums of their own...so Trohman formed With Knives, while Hurley also started to play drums in Hardcore act Enabler. From is side, Stump began working on his one-man solo album Soul Punk, in 2010, and released it in October 2011. Inspired by a conversation he had with producer Sam Hollander about mashing up Ska, Dance and Reggae with '80s British Rock and Pop to create a new experimental sound, Wentz formed the Ska/ Electropop act Black Cards with singer Bebe Rexha in July 2010. attempts to make an album however failed, and following Rexha's exit, Black Cards turned into an DJ duo when Wentz (whom, by the way, was possibly spreading his energies a bit then beforehand, as he was also managing his clothes label Clandestine Industries, his record label DecayDance Records, film production company barskull, as well as two bars in Chicago and Barcelona?) partnered with Spencer Peterson, releasing a mixtape of popular artists online.

Rumours of a FOB reunion were circulating in Spring 2012, and it was “confirmed” by Beau Bokan of Blessthefall on his twitter account (he later claimed having had the news from one of the band's members during the Warped Tour) that FOB were “officially” writing a new record. Stump, Wentz and Trohman however immediately denied the fact that any such work was being done by the band collectively (which of course left open the possibility that they might be working on new material individually, or as a part of the band). The band later announced the reunion themselves, prompting reactions from music journalists that, seen the negative reception of Stump's and Wentz' side projects, the reunion was inevitable!

As on the previous album, the album (which was recorded in secrecy between October 2012 and March 2013 at Venice, CA's Rubyred Recordings in a co-production between the band and Butch Walker, the latter brought in in favor of the band's longstanding producer Neal Avron, because FOB wanted to re-invent themselves, focusing more on a Pop-geared sound) sports some guest vocalists, these including Foxes (on “Just One Yesterday”), Big Sean (on “The Mighty Fall” - co-written by the band and their producer, with lyrical aid from Sean Anderson), Courtney Love (on “Rat A Tat”) and Elton John (on the album closing title track). The latter's collaboration was attained in a funny way. When the band heard that Elton John was a fan of their music, they jokingly suggested that he might want to record with them. So when he complied (and this was late in production, to the point that the mixing of the album was delayed) it was decided that Stump would travel to Atlanta to record with John. Incidentally, Love's contribution as also recorded elsewhere. Having stayed tight-lipped up and 'til the end, FOB finally announced their reunion on February 4 of this year, and the arrival of their new album as well as plans for touring.

Over to the album's music, which in many cases is so chuck-full of added synths and programming (occasional stings added as well) as to make for an almost bombastic sound, and how the guys plan to recreate that kind of music (which, for a change, was written by the band as a whole) on stage is a mystery to me...unless they hire a keyboardist to perform that part. Having been cited as an Post-Core Emo Pop Rock in the past, I really see no reason to change that assessment, albeit cutting off the Post-Core to be more accurate to the band's current overall sound. For a load of the new album's music, you might check out the band's own website (or links there found). For now, I'd like to present you with some facts about this album's reception. You see, selling some 150,000 copies in its first week (in spite of heavy competition from rapper Kid Cudi's album Indicud, released on the same day) after the US release on April 16 earned the band a #1 spot in several charts in the US, including the Billboard 200, and Billboard's Rock Albums, Digital Albums, and Alternative Albums charts. On the international market, the album also debuted on the #1 position in 27 countries around the world, and at #2 in another 13 countries and, as a whole, entered the Top 10 in 60 countries (for more detailed info, check the album's page on Wikipedia – incidentally, Belgium belongs to the 3rd group).

Well, no matter what your standpoint on the band's music is, one cannot deny the fact that these guys write some pretty catchy music, which cannot fail to get pinioned under one's musical skin after only a couple of listening sessions! Not among my favourite music, but I've loved listening to the album nevertheless!