Review of American Beauty/American Psycho by Fall Out Boy

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More than a decade and seven full-length albums later, Fall Out Boy have managed to keep themselves in the spotlight, becomming the masters of a “comeback”. After a five year hiatus, the band surprised millions with the sudden release of 2013’s Save Rock and Roll, where the band began to show their shift in direction from their old punk-rock style of music, into an experimental pop record with rock undertones. American Beauty/American Psycho, scheduled to release January 20th, takes that to the next level showing the world a new side of Fall Out Boy.

The album kicks off with a fanfare of horns behind a pop-sounding beat that immediately grasps your attention. The track titled “Irresistible”, is the perfect start to the album, reminding us of bassist Pete Wentz’s masterfully crafted lyrics with some classic Fall Out Boy sounding piano before each chorus. It then switches to the weakest track off the album, the out-of-place, “American Beauty/American Psycho”. The song is too repetitive for this listener, specifically with lyrical choices, but it will manage to be stuck in your head for days. The even more out-of-place chant in the middle of the track makes it a bit more distasteful than intended to be. However, the next track does make the record redeem itself. “Centuries”, the catchy pop song using vocals from Suzanne Vega’s “Tom’s Diner”, was the first single released off the album in mid-september and it’s been playing on your local radio station ever since. A highlight off the record, “Centuries” incorporates Fall Out Boy’s edgy instrumentals, but shows off their pop shift in sound which works in their favor. The record then leads into the beautifully crafted, “The Kids Aren’t Alright”. A bit of a slower song that keeps with the consistent pop-sound on the record with a catchy chord progression and whistle in the background.

One of the best tracks off the album, “Uma Thurman” includes a fantastic piano instrumentation, and incorporates part the theme song from the 1960’s television series, The Munsters, throughout the track. Why? We’re not sure. What we do know, is it was a daring move to use such an unusual song, but it adds a complexity to the track, and will leave listeners intrigued. The mix of the theme song, Fall Out Boy’s piano and guitar melodies, and a rock edge throughout the track make this one of the most intriguing Fall Out Boy songs in years. If this song doesn’t want to make you get up and move, nothing will.

The album slows down once again with “Jet Pack Blues”, using Patrick Stump’s warm vocals to sing out a come back home plea, that gets heavier as the song progresses. “Novocaine” picks the tempo back up, opening with a classic Fall Out Boy punk and angst sound. The pop sound is soon brought back with “Fourth of July”, a weaker track off the album that still manages to be undeniably catchy, and “Favorite Record”, which is a bit repetitive, and slightly too pop-sounding, but has a sweet message. The album then goes into “Immortals”, which is featured in Disney’s, “Big Hero 6”. One of the catchiest songs off the record, it continues to be a current “fan favorite” and shows off how to create a great pop song from an  intriguing opening instrumentation.

The album comes to a close with the beautifully done, “Twin Skeleton’s (Hotel in NYC)”. The track also leaves a glimmer of hope for the nostalgic Fall Out Boy fans of the early 2000’s with it’s progressive rock instrumentations, and the most well-written lyrics on the album. Just when you think it can’t get better, guitarist Joe Trohman comes in with a long-awaited guitar solo, and Stump adds transcending harmonies, making this track a highlight off the album, and one of the greatest, most intriguing releases to come from Fall Out Boy’s reunion.

If you are stuck in the Fall Out Boy sound of a decade ago, it’s hard to deny their shift in their sound with this record. Since their return in 2013, there has been continuous conflict across the world for fans who don’t like the direction they have chosen to take. Though it may be hard to adjust to the sound, American Beauty/American Psycho incorporates good production, and shows off the band’s lyrical advancement. It is indeed a big change from any track off of 2003’s Take This To Your Grave, to anything off of American Beauty/American Psycho, it should be respected that Fall Out Boy are trying to do something new, and it is working in their favor.

Download: “Twin Skeleton’s (Hotel in NYC)” and “Uma Thurman”

Rated: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Review by Jenny Caulfield

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