Friday, December 20, 2013

#5 of my Top 12 Albums of 2013: Save Rock and Roll

Fall Out Boy's Save Rock and Roll

Release Date: April 12th, 2013
Label: Island Records
Genre: Pop Rock

     Looking back at all of my previously released picks, I see that they all have a tint of Metal from them, except for Bodh'aktan, making this the first album on this list that reached a large amount of the public eye.  I had been a fan of Fall Out Boy back when I listened to a lot of pop punk like Sum 41 and Eve 6, but had only listened to them a little bit.  I wouldn't stream entire albums of theirs but I did recognize that they had a peak, much like other pop punk/rock bands, and had since fallen far from that peak, again like many other pop punk/rock bands.  Bands like Good Charlotte, All-American Rejects and Eve 6, who were all very popular and made good music at a point in their career, have all fallen from grace lately and their music had fallen from the charts and from standards of good music.  This does not hold true for Sum 41, who's latest release Screaming Bloody Murder, showed that they are still sticking to what they know best and are still making good music, and this also does not hold for Fall Out Boy, who's latest release Save Rock and Roll, shows that they have truly advanced as a band while holding true to a lot of their classic sound.  This album came out five years after the disappointing Folie a Deux, the album that made me fear that Fall Out Boy would fall like so many others, and reinvigorated my hope for the future of this band in one fell swoop.

     Fall Out Boy is a rather popular band, so it feels rather silly to talk about the history of the band, but I will do so anyway simply because there are many out there who will dismiss this album simply because the band name is attached to it.  Fall Out Boy began at the turn of the century by a group of friends who began in hardcore punk bands, but unlike the similar inception as the last review, Butcher Babies, Fall Out Boy constructed a line up of people who wanted to play more pop-oriented punk, similar to one of their favorite bands, Green Day.  After the fans chose their name for them, Fall Out Boy solidified a lineup by 2003 that still stands today and released "Take This To Your Grave" that same year, which was met with relative success.  Their followup EP and second album, From Under The Cork Tree, was where Fall Out Boy truly exploded in popularity, charting high in both the Heatseekers chart and the Billboard Top 200 Chart. After two more albums, the band went on a hiatus and many were unsure if Fall Out Boy would form up again afterword.  Patrick Stump created a more synth and pop-oriented solo album, bassist Pete Wentz created Black Cards and created more techno dance music and guitarist Joe Trohman and drummer Andy Hurly went on to create the heavy metal band The Damned Things, which I actually highly suggest to everyone, with members from both Anthrax and Every Time I Die.  After this odd split of musical directions, the band came back together and used everything they had experimented with over the past few years to create Save Rock and Roll.

"The Phoenix"

     So what came out of that weird mixing of influences; pop, synth, techno, and heavy metal?  The dance themes from Stump and Wentz's work definitely shows on a lot of the tracks on the album, most of the songs including a stomping dance beat and relying a lot more on the production/orchestration attached to the songs than the instruments the band members play themselves.  There are exceptions to this rule in the album such as "Death Valley," which better mixes the elements, but for the most part this album is heavy on the production.  "The Phoenix" is the first song I heard from the album because I tend to avoid the radio stations nowadays so I missed the phenomenon of "My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light Em Up)" and I just started this song from the beginning.  Thankfully, Fall Out Boy starts off right away with this song saying that they are back to make some rock and roll, to teach those younger than them what it is to make rock music and what the ideals of rock music should entail.  They want to fix the younger generations' preconceptions of what music truly is and raise them back up in the correct way, in the way of ROCK! (Cue School of Rock references).  This is an awesome sentiment and one that people like me completely agree with but not entirely sure that this is the best band/album to do that with, considering rock music classically involves much more focus on the instruments rather than the produced sound, but I'll take what I can get.  Its a very catchy song and fantastic album opener, one of the best songs through the album as well.

     Strangely enough, even though this album is rated so high in my countdown, I do have a few gripes with this album, the songs "My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light Em Up)" and "The Mighty Fall."  Now, I do actually like these songs, but I have problems with each of them that I feel bring the album down from being incredible.  With "My Songs..." (too long of a title, will abbreviate like this from now on), the song is catchy enough and it has a well constructed overlaying of vocals, but the chorus is probably the weakest on the entire album, which is depressing considering this album has some very good writing on it overall and this is the song that was used as the lead-off single and the fan preconception for the album prior to its full release.  A majority of the song is literally "Light em up," "In the dark, dark" and variations of "Ooh," which sucks considering the song is basically a triumphant return song, signaling that they are back with good material but at the same time saying they are a different band then their first four albums.  It could have been much better written and become a more fulfilling song, but it just leaves me wanting more variety and less "Ohhh Ohh Ohh Ohh Ohhh."  "The Mighty Fall" is also a problem for me because the song is one of the best sounding songs and well written songs with nice integration of a guitar hook and other interesting noises that make it stand out on the album.... until their guest shows up.  This album actually features many guest artists such as Elton John and Courtney Love, who both do a respectable job, but "The Mighty Fall" features Big Sean, who completely destroys the pace and meaning of the song.  Stump sings about how weird the relationship described it and how it probably shouldn't even be to the point that the love between the two should have probably just been abandoned and at times it even seems like they are alone when together.  Big Sean singing about how much he wants to be with his girl, specifically for physical reasons and only mentioning one line, his first line, that even ties in at all with Stump's verses.  Its completely necessary and nearly ruins the song for me.

"Just One Yesterday"

     On the other hand, we have the song "Just One Yesterday" featuring the talented singer Foxes, who plans on releasing her first full-length album, Glorious, next year.  This song is probably my favorite on the entire album and the one I always recommend to people when I speak of Save Rock and Roll.  It is a song that sounds very mean spirited in terms of many of the lyrics, Stump singing about how bitter he is about this woman who he viewed as an Angel betraying him and causing him pain.  In return, Stump wishes to get very gruesome revenge on the woman, who let him down, which is what he himself is used to doing to her so getting the disappointment himself is devastating.  The woman, Foxes, retorts by saying she knows everything about the man's true nature and instead of just telling everyone about his nature, she wishes to hurt him more by giving him her heart then ripping it away.  They both sing the chorus, indicating they both regret everything that has happened and if they could, they would turn back time to stop this spiral of hatred.  Very deep song and Foxes and Stump do a magnificent job singing together and separate around a very nice sounding piano hook.

"Death Valley"

     I won't go into the lyrics of other songs simply because I feel I have talked enough, but take my word for it that the lyrics of the songs are all written quite well, previous exceptions notwithstanding, and the rest of the album has a very consisted yet varying feel to it, every song blending together well while at the same time being completely independent of each other in terms of meaning and sound.  I would recommend "Alone Together," "Where Did The Party Go" and "Death Valley" to anyone else who is interested in this album after reading this review or listening to the above songs.  I am glad that I am able to represent the Billboard listeners at least once on this list because I was afraid that the pop rock this year was not going to live up to last year's Imagine Dragons, Of Monsters and Men and other great pop rock releases.  Check it out if you like popular music at all or are a fan of the old pop rock/pop punk scene and wish to hear it with a little more of a revised sound.

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