Fall Out Boy reclaims spot on radio top 20

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Fall Out Boy made it to Top 20 Radio after returning from hiatus with “Save Rock’n’Roll.” They   were able to do it again when they released “Centuries” from their newest album, “American Beauty, American Psycho”—this time without such a long break.

The song, which borrows the opening vocals from “Tom’s Diner,” is high energy and has been adopted by sports commercials and the Pittsburgh Penguins.  The band told Rolling Stone that the whole album is a tribute to its love of pop culture.

“Uma Thurman” takes its name from the actress who played John Travolta’s temptress in “Pulp Fiction,” and uses the theme from the “Munsters.”  How the band decided those things go together, I don’t know, but it works.  They must have been passing drinks on tour and talking about Tarantino movies.

They also managed to write in classically symbolic lines like “the blood of the lamb is worth three lions, but here I am.” The writing actually took me back to “West Coast Smoker” from 2008’s “Folie a Deux.”

This track is loaded to say the least.

The energy previewed in “Centuries” gives listeners a good idea of what to expect.  The opening song, “Irresistible,” is a surprise with a regal trumpet solo and ironies like “too many sharks… not enough blood in the waves.”

The title track seems to play off Green Day’s “American Idiot,” but Fall Out Boy wasn’t writing an imitation.  It’s full of Pete Wentz one-liners like “I think I fell in love again/maybe I just took too much cough medicine” and intricate vocals from Patrick Stump.

This song is another throwback to “Folie a Deux” when the band mocked the celebrity lifestyle with “America’s Suitehearts” and Stump sang “I’m in love with my own sins.” But the style of the song was much more like a swing dance than the schizophrenia in this track.

From the pop culture angle – it’s great.  The bridge includes the “ah” breakdown from The Beatles’ “Twist and Shout.”

The album slows down with tracks like “The Kids Aren’t Alright,” “Jet Pack Blues” and “Favorite Record.”  All feel nostalgic and maybe a little unrequited.  “Jet Pack Blues” has a ballad style and images of what’s lost: “don’t youPack Blues” with an aptly-placed war-cry song that is reminiscent of “The Phoniex” from “Save Rock’n Roll.”  In “Novacaine,” Stump shows off with a lot of falsetto and then brings it back down for “Fourth of July” and the remaining two songs.

“Immortals” sounds misplaced when it kicks in with something that can only be described as Bollywood.  It was written for Disney’s “Big Hero 6” so I guess that’s where the confusion is.  They wanted to include their latest soundtrack work, too.

The album closes with “Twin Skeleton’s (Hotel in NYC),” which feels a bit eerie but still has the power of Stump’s vocals that is present in the opening track.  The album doesn’t close on a strong note the way “Save Rock’n Roll” did, but the band’s direction is similar.

Fall Out Boy has moved toward a more radio-friendly sound.  They seem to have grown out of the place they held in pop punk.

While die-hard fans might feel inclined to whine about the band moving too far from its original sound, it’s helpful to remember favorites like “Sugar, We’re Going Down” were written 10 years ago.  Paired side-by-side, the new songs aren’t even comparable. They shouldn’t be.

“American Beauty, American Psycho” is better seen as a follow-up to “Save Rock ‘n Roll,” and fans of that album will enjoy this one.

 

KELSEY GHERING

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