While Andy Hurley and Joe Trohman were playing drums and guitar, respectively, in metal supergroup The Damned Things, Pete Wentz was playing bass in electronic duo Black Cards and Patrick Stump was embarking on a strange solo career and producing for Gym Class Heroes. Somehow, the former members of Fall Out Boy found time to secretly record an entire album and turned heads when they released the single “My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light Em Up)” back in February.
Save Rock N Roll is somewhat of a misnomer. The album is their least rock-influenced to date. Where antecedent Folie à Deux had easily distinguishable instrumentation, Save Rock N Roll intentionally attempts to hide the guitars and bass under heavy production to strive for a post-arena rock feel.
The album begins with an orchestral string section on “The Phoenix.” Within seconds, it’s clear how drastically Fall Out Boy has changed its sound over the years. Evening Out With Your Girlfriend was unabashed pop punk, before the band transitioned to alternative pop rock on its album, Infinity on High. The orchestral sampling has become one of the band’s main staples, with roots in Infinity on High’s “Thnks fr th Mmrs” and “The (After) Life Of The Party.” “The Phoenix” sets the tone of Fall Out Boy’s return as a triumphant reclamation of their abandoned genre.
“Alone Together” has some of the album’s best lyrics like “My heart is like a stallion/they love it more when it’s broken.” “Just One Yesterday” begins with the same melody as Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep,” and the theme is similar as well. Stump proves his versatile vocal skills with effortless switches into falsetto and bellowing baritones. “Miss Missing You” is an 80s throwback with pulsating synthesizers.
No stranger to heavyweight guest vocalists, like Jay-Z on Infinity on High or Lil Wayne on Folie à Deux, the album’s four featured artists have a 50 percent success rate.
“The Mighty Fall (feat. Big Sean)” is the album’s lowest point, displaying the tension between Fall Out Boy and its aspirations of arena/party rock. Big Sean’s intro “Turn up … fall out,” and subsequent verse “Hell yeah I’m a dick, girl … addicted to you,” make pushing the “next track” button inevitable.
Also problematic is “Rat A Tat (feat. Courtney Love).” The song’s first few seconds have her declaring, “…It’s Courtney, bitch,” an unpromising, but fitting, beginning. Good thing she cleared that up, though. Who even knew she was still alive? Love’s vocals are unintelligible and heavily distorted, but thankfully pass quickly.
The closing title track features Elton John in a surprisingly good match. John and Stump’s soulful vocals outline their duty to “Defend the faith/Going down swinging,” like the band’s first hit “Sugar, We’re Goin Down.” The track works well as an outro, fading out with a nice violin refrain.
Of course, bands coming out of retirement invariably draw criticism for upsetting old fans like Blink 182’s Neighborhoods, for example. The album’s ubiquitous youthful chorus is not only unnecessary, but annoying. Fall Out Boy tries too hard and too soon with its comeback album, but the band was never to be taken all too seriously anyway.
The Yeay Yeah Yeahs' Mosquito
Songs to download: "Sacrilege," "Slave"
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs has finally become what everyone knew it would be — excessively bohemian art rockers. The New York trio hit it big with single “Maps” but on Mosquito it lost its way. The group ends up straying too far from the appealing alternative rock and enters the realm of obscurity, though lead single “Sacrilege” is exceptional. Take title track “Mosquito,” for example, where vocalist Karen O thoughtlessly muses about the eponymous subject over echoing bongos, which makes the whole album sounds like an episode of Def Jam Poetry. Additionally, the album could win the award for worst cover art of the year.
The Flaming Lips' The Terror
Album: The Terror
Label: Warner Bros.
Songs to download: None
The Flaming Lips, while not being easily accessible, is back for its thirteenth album. Let it be known that The Terror is not for the casual listener looking for cheap thrills, but one looking for a musical experience. The Terror is a dissonant attack on one’s hearing, and should be treated like a fleeting glance at the sublime. Unfortunately, it just sounds like a bunch of noise thrown together.
Printed on Tuesday, April 16, 2013 as Fall Out Boy releases ambitious comeback album