“I only plugged in to Save Rock and Roll”
What a poignant statement. We were all wondering what brought one of rock music’s most intriguing quartets out of their self imposed retirement and they explained it all with one simple statement. As a fan I was crushed that Fall Out Boy took a break. I felt like the band had so much potential and was still putting out high quality music, when they stopped. So, hearing that one of my favorite bands was coming back was music to my ears.
They did an excellent job on their comeback. They recorded in secret, and released the single, and tour dates right as they released the news of their return. Brilliant. If they were going to do it, this was the way to do it. Fall Out Boy’s return was this year’s best surprise. This year is also the tenth anniversary of the landmark pop punk classic, Take This To Your Grave. So that makes the reunion even more significant.
On Save Rock and Roll, the band sounds refreshed and seems to be playing with a renewed energy. I am not a huge fan of Butch Walker’s production in general but I think it worked for what the band wanted to accomplish here. They wanted to remind everyone that rock and roll started as an amalgam of styles and influences. It is more of a mindset than a rigid set of rules that restricts what musicians can create. If there was a mold for the genre of rock and roll then this band and this album smashes it apart.
The album gets off to a tremendous start with “The Phoenix”. The frenzied pace set by the galloping percussion and the layered strings carries a sense of energy and urgency. I like the way lead singer Patrick Stump croons the words, “Like a Phoenix.” They still have the classic tongue in cheek lyrics courtesy of bassist Pete Wentz, “Wearing our vintage misery, no, I think it looks a little better on me…” Fire is a reoccurring theme on the album and this song about the flaming mythical bird is a perfect metaphor for the band’s white hot return.”My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light Em Up)” is the first single and it is great stuff. It has an unbelievably catchy chorus. I also love the vocal flow of the song and the repeated words throughout. The bassline is also thick and prominent. Immediately loved it but it definitely grows on you with each listen and refuses to let go.
The chorus of “Alone Together” is infectious and that is made even more enjoyable by the woahs. Try not to sing along to “Let’s be alone together. We can stay young forever.” It is just one of the many moments on this album that you just have to sing along to. FOB take us to the club with the song, “Where Did the Party Go” This song is just a fun party song and it has an almost 70s disco rock feel. After a few plays those ‘Nananananas’ will be stuck in your head. Tell me the beginning of “Just One Yesterday” (Feat. Foxes) doesn’t remind you of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep”? It’s supposed to, it is one of the album’s homages to other artists they love. Foxes sounds great intertwined with the voice of Patrick Stump, especially on the verses.
I love the feel of the song “The Mighty Fall” (Feat. Big Sean). There are so many moments that just work well in this tune, like the chorus, when Patrick says “How the mighty FALL…fall in love.” Or Big Sean’s verse, I’m not the world’s biggest Big Sean fan but his verse works well here. Or maybe its that awesome riff and guitar work from Joe Trohman. This song is a fun rock/rap mix that just works. More clever lines pop up on the tune, “Miss Missing You”. “The person you’d take a bullet for is the one behind the trigger” is such a great line. More woahs and soaring vocals from Patrick Stump for you to enjoy. I also like how the outro breaks down and goes acoustic.
I love hearing Patrick yell “I want to see your animal side” to start off “Death Valley”. The rhythm section shines here, the driving bass line and thundering drums that are being absolutely pounded on by drummer Andy Hurley are paired with some delicate strumming that kicks into a full band in the choruses. The song even has a bit of a dub step in it, and that is the magic of this album, nothing feels strange. “Young Volcanoes” starts off with some prominent handclaps. It is kinda stripped down and almost sounds like a fun. song in the chorus. I am not a Courtney Love fan but I gotta give Fall Out Boy credit for using her. “Rat a Tat” (Feat. Courtney Love) is an interesting song, I could do without Courtney but it doesn’t ruin the album. It is definitely my least favorite of the features on the disc. The song itself is pretty good though.
The album closer, “Save Rock and Roll” (Feat. Elton John) is already one of my all time favorite songs. Having Sir Elton John do piano and vocals on this track is a dream come true. Merging rock royalty and rock music’s present and future is an awesome feat. The most amazing part is that it exceeded my super high expectations. The more I listen to this song the better it gets. The song opens with the line “Until your breathing stops forever” from the song “Chicago Was So Two Years Ago” from Take This To Your Grave. This song is the new anthem for the band going on, they say, “I will defend the faith, going down swinging. I will save the songs, we can’t stop singing.” The interplay of Patrick Stump and Elton John is glorious. I also love Elton’s extended note as the heavy instrumentation fades away and just leaves voices and strings. Simply beautiful. One of the best songs I have ever heard.
This band delivered an album that is different but still really rock and roll. I love how they worked in so many different influences. Save Rock and Roll is a great return album and that is how you should treat it. Fall Out Boy is back to enrich all of their lives. As they say themselves on the title track, “Oh no, we won’t go. Cause we don’t know when to quit.” Good, we don’t want them going away again any time soon.