The roots of Fall Out Boy originally labeled them as rock. Punk rock with an emo twist really. Now-a-days it’s hard to call them anything less than a commercial rock band. A successful commercial rock band. On the surface they look like Good Charlotte, but come with the musical sophistication of Linkin Park accompanied by melodies which are similar to Maroon 5’s. Fall Out Boy has been pretty consistent in laying out hit records since 2005 with titles such as “Dance, Dance” “Thnks Fr Th Mmrs” and “My Songs Know What You Did in The Dark.” They have found a way to make their music not just appealing to radio but also to television and film.
“American Beauty / American Psycho” is Fall Out Boy’s sixth album and the lead single “Centuries” is still getting burn since being released early in 2014’s fourth quarter. “Centuries” is now certified platinum and has been used a ton for sports advertisements. The song’s lyrics are perfect for that sort of stage as the chorus says: “Some legends are told / Some turn dust to gold / But you will remember me / Remember me for centuries.” The commercial appeal on “Centuries” not only has the catchy chorus, accompanied by an aggressive backing track – but also contains a sample of the familiar melody carried by the Suzanne Vega song “Tom’s Diner.”
The uptempo commercial rock onslaught definitely doesn’t stop there.
The horns used on “Irresistible” accompanied by a “Michael Jackson-kind” of cadence in delivery by lead singer Patrick Stump are a nice combination. In true Fall Out Boy form, the song builds up to a strong chorus and gives a stadium feel with it’s easy to follow melody and chants. The song itself deals with a tumultuous relationship that one can’t let go of as he says “I love the way you hurt me baby.”
The album’s title track is the second single and is a little more chaotic than most tracks on “American Beauty / American Psyhco.” It has more of a punk element to it, mixed with a modern day dance feel. This one may be a little to aggressive to reach the commercial longevity of “Centuries” but none-the-less gets the job done and adds a different sound to the album.
Fall Out Boy has a tendency to not get out of their zone much – which happens to those with consistent commercial success. The formula is pretty evident. As noted earlier – they love using these “chant like” routines in their songs which work well when playing live and do the job for “sticking in one’s” head. The production of the album is on point throughout, and even on some of the album’s low points like “Fourth of July” “Immortals” and “The Kids Aren’t Alright” the guitar work, drum play and sample usage are all done well. “The Kids Aren’t Alright” falls short of the success and over-all quality of the Offspring song with the same title and is one of the few songs that never really reaches a “high point.”
“Novocaine” has a spoken bass line reminiscent of Kanye’s “Black Skinhead” but much like “Jet Pack Blues” some of the lyrics are just indecipherable in terms of understanding the “point.” This works for and against Fall Out Boy – which may ultimately help them in the long run. Usually in commercial music the lyrics are simple enough for a second grader to follow, Fall Out Boy at least hasn’t lost their creative integrity within their commercial success – they are just continuing what’s been working for them.
Everything comes together perfectly on the track “Uma Thurman” which samples the theme song from the Adam’s Family and seemingly plays an ode to the actress and her infamous dance scene in the movie “Pulp Fiction.” The song itself sounds like a drug-induced frenzy on the dance floor and weirdly enough can still work it’s way to give the listener that “get up when you’re beat down” feeling which is the over-all feel of every Fall Out Boy record. The lyrics in the chorus build well with piano and hand claps: “I can move mountains / I can work a miracle, work a miracle / Oh, oh, I keep you like an oath / May nothing but death, do, us, part.”
Sometimes the guitar work gets lost in all of the production and even “over-production,” but the musical talent of Fall Out Boy cannot be denied. For all that’s labeled as “commercial” there comes a notion that there is a lack of “talent” and that’s not the case with F.O.B. What would be nice, is to see them risk this commercial appeal and take their music to the next level, because they have the potential to create a sound even better than what they have presented to the masses already. On “American Beauty / American Psycho,” Fall Out Boy doesn’t disappoint their fan-base as they continue to be who they are. They won’t change things up until the masses become tired of their routine – but until then, they will keep all the chants and heavy chorus’ coming.
Rating 7 out of 10