Fall Out Boy have been widely criticised throughout their career, but three years on from their crucial comeback, we revisit Save Rock And Roll.
2009 was a year that proved tough on Fall Out Boy. They had announced their imminent break due to having a tough time within the band; vocalist Patrick Stump admitted he was heaviest he had ever been and loathed the ’emo’ image the band had adopted, while frontman Pete Wentz divorced then-wife Ashlee Simpson and began attending therapy sessions and drummer Andy Hurley claimed that he “went through the darkest depression [I’ve] ever felt”. It was something, they said, was necessary for the survival of the band.
Wentz explained that he preferred not to use the word ‘hiatus’, saying: “I don’t think I would use the word ‘hiatus’ because I think that word has gotten a dirty name, especially if you say ‘indefinite hiatus’. I wouldn’t use the word ‘breakup’ because that’s not true. It’s a break — we’re decompressing. I’m making a new term for it: we’re decompressing right now.”
After this three year long ‘decompression’, each member of Fall Out Boy had had enough. They decided to regroup, with Stump and Hurley each contributing unused ideas from their solo projects — thus constructing the beginnings of Save Rock And Roll.
1. The Pheonix
The Pheonix is all that you’d expect from the ultimate album opener – the beginning and ending are both explosions of music, and it doesn’t fade at any point between: ‘Put on your war paint’, Stump sings angrily. From the start, this album shows that it’s not one to be messed with: this is a battle, a battle against the norm – a battle that Fall Out Boy will win.
The constant pounding of Hurley’s drums matching the racing of your heart; the fast rhythm of the guitar flowing melodically – it’s the perfect introduction to a modernised band. The bridge slows us down momentarily, but not without angry commands of ‘wave the white flag!” only for the chorus to burst in once again, kicking and screaming.
This track is just preparation for the rest of the album, and it’s a preparation that’s needed.
2. My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light ‘Em Up)
Fall Out Boy are a band that are famed for their long song titles, (see I’ve Got A Dark Alley And A Bad Idea That Says You Should Shut Your Mouth (Summer Song)) and Light ‘Em Up doesn’t disappoint.
This song is the first single from Save Rock And Roll and easily the most distinguishable. Light ‘Em Up proved itself, and with a catchy opening hook, it’s hard not to find yourself captivated in the first 30 seconds. And when Stump growls “I’m on fire”, you know that this is an anthem built for stadium-sized audiences.
3. Alone Together
A memorable track with lyrics that are somewhat cliché – “I don’t know where I’m going but I don’t think I’m coming home”, “scream it from the top of your lungs” – Alone Together is a song that is fitting for the height of all teenage angst. The melody itself is intense and from the start Stump’s voice is perfectly anguished, but the build up is not for nothing. The explosive start of the chorus sees Stump crying “say it!” and we seem to breathe out deeply, as if we had been waiting for this our whole lives.
This song is a certain festival anthem.
4. Where Did The Party Go
Perhaps the most charming song of the album, Where Did The Party Go provides a smile for most faces. The foot tapping beat that flows easily from Wentz’s steady bass line is nothing short of exciting, and the deep tones of Stump’s voice portray perfectly the darker lyrics that very nearly get lost in the upbeat dance track.Much like the other songs on the album, the chorus is rife with an explosion of drums, and it’s completely fitting.
So far, Save Rock And Roll is proving to be the perfect comeback Fall Out Boy needed.
5. Just One Yesterday (ft Foxes)
Following on from the stylish tones of Where Did The Party Go, Just One Yesterday manages to go one step further with pop singer Foxes lending her vocals to the track. It’s previously been compared to Adele’s Rolling In The Deep – and not without correct reasoning – but as the track continues, it gets deeper and darker than any of Adele’s work.
Foxes’ vocals are a perfect juxtaposition – her vulnerable pitch works against the sinister lyrics which describe a case of emotional blackmail, and the contrast between her voice and Stump’s proves for the perfect interaction.
6. The Mighty Fall (ft Big Sean)
The collaboration between Fall Out Boy and Big Sean may be the most surprising one yet, but that does not mean it’s a bad one. In fact, the track makes for a slightly unneeded but pleasant change.
The song still holds the melodies needed to make up stadium-sized anthem equation, but the rapper cutting in with his overly confident verse portrays the story from another side, giving the lyrics that much more of an edge than before.
7. Miss Missing You
Arguably the strongest song on the album, Miss Missing You characterises exactly what Fall Out Boy are about with the lyrics – “now you’re gone but I’ll be okay” – and in the buzzing enthusiasm they share from simply playing together as friends. It’s almost painfully relatable – a song about getting hurt by a loved one? It’s a second nature to most.
‘Baby you were my picket fence’ is a lyric that describes the outer safety of a person – but also the inner destruction. The words to track make for a wonderful break up song, but the strong melody will lift you right back up.
8. Death Valley
Death Valley has often been described as the most exciting song on the album, and it would take a strong man to disagree. Incorporating a slight dubstep element – yes, really – the song encourages even the most stubborn people to get up and move.
The lyrics back up the musical encouragement further “I wanna see your animal side, let it all out”. And really, who could resist?
9. Young Volcanoes
The only acoustic song on the album, Young Volcanoes forgoes the previous stadium-sized anthems – but you could still imagine it in places just a big: think festivals.
The light melody and poetic lyrics will be sure to have people straining to sing along as loud as possible, preaching other people’s views about the independence and creativity of the youth. Honestly, it’s one for the masses.
10. Rat A Tat (ft Courtney Love)
A questionable opener: “It’s Courtney, bitch!” (Kind of familiar. Britney Spears, anyone?). Her snarled rant seems to get lost in translation with no relevance to the song at all, although the fast pace does seem to fit well with the brisk pounding of the drums. With Love, the track is confusing at best. Without, though, it just wouldn’t work.
11. Save Rock And Roll (ft Elton John)
Fall Out Boy seem end their albums with a resonating ballad, and Save Rock And Roll is no different. Out of the entire album, this collaboration makes the most sense. Stump and John perform entirely in sync, and it’s thanks to this reason that the track works so well. At the end we enter an exclamation of “oh no, we won’t go” that repeats and increases in tension until the last moment where the song fades, and it really is hard to wish for Fall Out Boy to go.