Late last year, we began to hear rumblings of a new Fall Out Boy album, later proven true with the release of “Centuries” in September, and then “Immortals” for the Big Hero 6 Official Soundtrack a month later. After the success of Save Rock and Roll in 2013, and their tour with Paramore in 2014, FOB opens 2015 with American Beauty/American Psycho.
The album was released last January 16th, hitting the airwaves in spite of some “hiccups” with leaked releases teasing what was to come. Honestly though, the wait has been worth it. Frontman and co-songwriter Patrick Stump expressed a desired goal of putting together a “stylistically cohesive album” – and we have to agree, from start to finish, FOB has done a pretty good job of doing what they set out to do.
With me reviewing this album is fellow WAG writer, Noey. Here goes!
Miggy: Opening strong already. The horns and the drumline at the beginning just gives you that “I wanna go” kind of feeling. It sounds like the kind of song that plays before the big game in a movie.
Noey: Hehe. The first time this played, I had flashbacks of sitting around while watching the Rocky Balboa flicks with my folks. The energy is ace on this one and bits and snatches of the lyrics jump out at you right away, giving the whole air of “fight, fight, fight!”
2. American Beauty/American Psycho
M: I’ll admit, I didn’t actually like this track when I first heard it, maybe the video had something to do with it. But it grew on me after just listening to the track itself. The beat does feel heavy for this track, hardly to its detriment.
N: There’s something very cinematic about this track, it’s almost like you could pluck it out of a soundtrack from a film that’s set in one of the big cities with sweeping panoramic shots of the skyline. When I listened to FOB for the first time, I did it on loop and this was the first track that played. It’s catchy and it snagged me straight away. It might not be the strongest, but it does grow on you.
M: I’d heard two versions of this track within days of its release. The Hyperlapse Edition was a little fast, and this one is just right. Apparently it samples “Tom’s Diner”, and I never thought I’d hear that song again. Combine that sampling with the beat and the lyrics? It sounds like a battle theme.
N: I am so in love with this track, hands down. The way the sample opens the track followed by Patrick’s vocals with that almost echo effect backed by the piano that gives a body shivers. The only word that comes to mind to describe it’s sound is “massive”. It’s the kind of song that gets you in the gut and makes you want to sing it at the top of your lungs – maybe from rooftops if those are at all accessible.
4. The Kids Aren’t Alright
M: Well. The lyrics are certainly the kind that urge you to live without regrets. In spite of that the song does rather sound like that first time you let something slip through your fingers. The transition from Centuries to this was seamless.
N: My sentimental side is going to show, but what I really like about this song is the way the accompaniment and lyrics marry a sense of bittersweet hope together and the reiteration of the line ‘and in the end/I’d do it all again’ really kicks that home for me. It’s a song that, for a lack of a better way to put it, definitely has that inner-mind theatre flashback feel.
5. Uma Thurman
M: Oddly enough, this one reminds me of that scene in Kill Bill where Uma’s character is on a bike. You could totally dance to this one. The song makes me feel like I could actually do things my way and be memorable for it.
N: Definitely a tune that’ll get you on your feet. The drumline makes you want to stamp your feet, shake your hips and toss your hair, and the sampled riff from the Munsters is excellent.
6. Jet Pack Blues
M: Wow, okay this one hurts. I may be taking the literal meaning of the lyrics to heart but it makes me feel like I just had this big fight with someone I really care about and I don’t know if we’re okay. Oddly perfect for the weather I’m writing in at the moment – chilly, the kind that sinks into your bones. I’d love to hear this with just a guitar and Patrick’s voice because it’d be so haunting.
N: This is one of my top favorite songs off of the album. The sound is incredibly distinct, with the kind of recall that gets you singing with the chorus the second time it comes around even if you’ve only heard it for the first time. It is also a huge gut-punch and that is perfectly okay.
M: It’s a twofer of feels. If “Jet Pack Blues” is the sadness, “Novocaine” is the numbness, and nakedness one can feel after laying it all out on the line. The lyrics are a bit of a gut-punch too, with lines like “I’m just a problem that doesn’t want to be solved.”
N: The way this song is put together, it’s the kind that you’d love to blare on almost full on your headphones because it gets your blood pumping. My favorite part of “Novocaine” is the way the refrain makes a pretty awesome lead in to the chorus itself that singing along is a rush.
8. Fourth of July
M: The opening rhythm made me think of Black Widow for a second. Just a second, then I listened to the rest of the song. The lyrics make me think of a relationship that burns too hot, too fast, and ultimately failed.
N: I had to listen to this song a couple of times for it to finally stick with me. It’s a different flavor from the previous track and the arrangement is subtle. The only way I can describe it is that it soars? Right before it — explodes is not the right word — but it does remind me a lot of that feeling you get when you watch streak up into the sky.
9. Favorite Record
M: I don’t know what it is, but the last four songs sounded a lot like relationships at different stages. This one sounds like the first part, or remembering the early stage of one, I mean the line alone “You were the song stuck in my head, every song I’ve ever loved.” Maybe it’s just me.
N: This is the song that actually made me think of the words “musical nostalgia”. Parts of this make me think back to the stuff I used to listen to on the morning trip to school when I just happened to turn on the radio to RX or Magic. The tracks I’d memorize pray the DJ would actually mention the title so that I could spend the weekend working it into a mixtape.
M: Wow. That transition. I mean. Wow. It just drops from “Favorite Record” straight into “Immortals” I heard this song off of the Big Hero 6 soundtrack and it had a different context in the film, on its own and next to the previous song, the context changes in the sense that it applies to two people instead of a group of people, though the message is the same: we could be unstoppable together.
N: I was so psyched when I heard that this was the theme for Big Hero 6. The first time I heard it, I confess it didn’t get me as solidly as “Centuries” did, but it did make me incredibly excited to see the movie and I love that like “Jet Pack Blues”, there’s a flavor to this that makes it distinct in how if you hear it play, you go …ping! That’s FOB’s “Immortals”.
11. Twin Skeletons (Hotel in NYC)
M: The Doctor Who fan in me hurt physically after hearing this song. The opening lines felt like a harsh reminder of loss and how one could be destined to repeat the same mistakes if they aren’t careful.
N: I am feeling incredibly sheepish for saying this, but the chorus and chant-quality to this song made my inner operatic rock fangirl squee — and then you mentioned Doctor Who. Too soon man. Too soon. 🙁
M: If they were going for cohesive, this record is definitely that. It doesn’t top their previous record, but unlike “Save Rock and Roll” – American Beauty/American Psycho sounds best when no tracks are missing. Trust me, I felt something was missing when Novocaine didn’t sync to my player. Barring the fact that a few songs may feel too similar; a number of songs are danceable, and the lyrics just fit. Older fans of the band may feel like it’s a very different sound – and it is – but that is a very, very good thing. It shows growth and maturity as artists.
N: I’m a fairly recent fan of FOB, in the sense that I knew of their earlier work but only a handful of songs and only really got drawn in when I discovered “Save Rock and Roll”. AB/AP is a damn good record, and I will put my vote with Miggy’s and agree that it doesn’t top SRAR, but comparing the two records is something that I believe would be unfair. SRAR set the bar pretty high, but FOB delivers with AB/AP. Is it their best record to date? I wouldn’t say that. The band’s goal was to make a stylistically cohesive album that they had fun putting together. They did just that.
On a final note, the American Beauty/American Psycho Tour will kick off on October 2015, as the band will be a part of Punkspring 2015 in Japan and the Boys of Zummer Tour. No tour dates beyond 2015 have been announced, so keep an eye out here and on the band’s website for updates.