Fall Out Boy – Save Rock and Roll album review

They’re back! In their first collaboration since the their 2010 hiatus, Fall Out Boy has returned, and they’ve brought Elton John with them. The boys have managed to keep their sound with the times. It is absolutely something engineered to be remixed into other pop hits.  The title track which features Her Majesties Sir John happens to fall into that 90ish BPM power anthem range. That being said, it does drag on for about one minute too long. 

One gets the sense that one of the principle aims of the completion was to acquire licensing deals in commercial spots. Everything is… good. Songs like “Where Did The Party Go” have this strange perfected, packaged and polished messiness – the manufactured “roughness” that one might expect from Maroon Five. There are moments when Patrick Stump does sound a bit like Adam Levine. Again, in this track they take a three minute song and unnecessarily stretch it to four. In the same vein of striving for commercial sense, “Just One Yesterday” borrows elements of proven hits like the Adele song “Rolling in the Deep.” It’s in no way plagiarism, but it borrows the color palate. That is the pervasive impression one gets from many of the songs. A sound manager/song writer said, “That technique worked for that artist. Let’s use exactly that.” 

Then there are the curveballs like “The Phoenix.” It’s like Katy Perry did a bunch of methamphetamine, got naked and ate all of the Fall Out Boys. It’s all very wonderful, terrifying and leaves you feeling slightly shaky, as though you’ve just drank a coffee laced with cough syrup. I liked that one. 

 I’ve never listened to Fall Out Boy, so I don’t know where their roots are at. I decided to judge the album as its own thing before wandering into the past. The title suggests they’re trying to Save Rock and Roll, but it seems more like an adoption of pop moves than anything. I wouldn’t call it rock. It’s all too perfect, too clean, too produced. You’re not listening to the artists that comprise of Fall Out Boy, you’re listening to a studio production, a sound engineer, a commercial product. 

Think about a Ferrari, or an Aston Martin. If you’re going to spend more than one hundred thousand dollars on a car, you should expect perfection. You should expect to be blown out of the water. If you simply receive “a good car,” you would be disappointed. A Honda Accord is a good car. 

They broke out enough capital to get Elton John on board, so that suggests the financial backing to the album. It seems that the boffins at the music marketing department wanted to make the reunion of Fall Out Boy an event. They wanted to make it a big deal. They put up all the tinsel, glitter and strobe lights. Of course everything is going to be done perfectly. 

Returning to the car metaphor, the astounding performance quality of a super car is to be expected, but you might not bond with the machine itself. Some super cars feel cold, detached, as if they are being too closely monitored by the computers that drive them. An individual is more likely to form a bond with a cheaper, older, second-hand car, like an old VW GTI, or an Alpha Romeo. Its not as fast, it doesn’t corner as well, it won’t last as long, but it has heart and soul. It will have blatant mistakes that add to its charm, just like its driver. 

It’s so unoffensive and playable in a Nordstroms that I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. They will encounter it enough on their own walking about in the world, and if they don’t they will hear a song that is completely the same.

By Eric Wong

Eric is a writer from San Francisco. Being Asian, he was forcibly inducted into classical music and choirs at a young age. So clearly, he knows what he's talking about.

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