Fall Out Boy releases a true American beauty
I told myself last week that, no matter what, I would not write a review of Fall Out Boy's new album American Beauty/American Psycho when it dropped on Tuesday. I was too biased, I told myself.
"Grand Theft Autumn/Where Is Your Boy," from 2003's Take This to Your Grave — "Where is your boy tonight?/I hope he is a gentleman" — was the first song I ever completely memorized in seventh grade. And "Dance, Dance," from 2005's From Under the Cork Tree, played on repeat on my iPod Mini for at least a month. I still listen to it on repeat.
Needless to say, I'm a shameless Fall Out Boy fanboy, and I couldn't resist this review. I never thought I'd like anything the band put out recently as much as what I deem their original music — everything before their hiatus a few years ago. That was true for their 2013 comeback album, Save Rock and Roll, which I enjoyed, but it didn't beat the old stuff.
But American Beauty/American Psycho surprised me, because I like almost every song on it more than I like "Grand Theft Autumn" and "Dance, Dance."
While the album isn't likely to convert you if you didn't like "Sugar, We're Going Down" or the more recent "My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light Em Up)," the work on this album is easily Fall Out Boy's best. It's diverse, gritty, and out of all the mainstream music I listen to, there's a number of sounds I've never heard on a track before, and many samples that I have that are used to great effect.
The album opens with one of my favorites — but let's be real, they're all my favorites — "Irresistible," which sets the tone of the album for something grand, with horns welcoming Patrick Stump's wide range of vocals and ability to elongate the words "It's irresistible" into a 13-second catchy phrase of an even catchier chorus.
The band then immediately throws itself into "American Beauty/American Psycho" which, when paired with "Novocaine," give the album its gritty quality. These songs are raw, with Stump reaching the lowest of his vocal range before jumping to the highest and then being drowned out by tangles of instrumental noise that are somehow some of the greatest noises that have ever graced my ears. You might think the band crazy after they passively threaten you with the lines "If you knew what the blue birds sang at you/you would never sing along" in "Novocaine" and a complete admission that they're American psychos in the song of a similar title. But that's what makes those songs so much fun.
And, of course, we can't forget the star of the album, "Immortals," which was straight-up made for Disney's Big Hero 6 (shout out to Carnegie Mellon for inspiring Baymax!), but is so catchy that I've included it on every playlist I've created since it was released as a single way back last year. Seriously, just listen to it. Even better is the way that "Favorite Record," which is ordered directly before "Immortals" on the album, transitions seamlessly into the Big Hero 6 song. Played separately from the rest of the album, "Immortals" starts off with the final held note of "Favorite Record." Played in the order they were meant to be played, it seems as if the two songs were produced with each other in mind, the first slow and reminiscent while the second complements the first with an upbeat head-bobbing beat. While "Favorite Record" isn't my favorite on the album, I always listen to it before "Immortals" just so I can hear that perfect transition.
Possibly my favorite song on the album though is one of the less popular (based on iTunes popularity ratings): "Fourth of July." The chorus goes something like this: "It was the Fourth of July/You and I were/You and I were fire-fireworks." Simple, right? It's so simple, and so catchy that when Stump belts it at the top of his lungs, you won't be able to do anything else but belt it out with him.
And no review of this album would be complete without mentioning the effective sampling in "Uma Thurman," "Centuries," and "American Beauty/American Psycho." "Uma Thurman" samples 1960s sitcom The Munsters theme song, "Centuries" samples Suzanne Vega's "Tom's Diner," and "American Beauty/American Psycho" samples Motley Crüe's "Too Fast for Love." Okay, admittedly that's a lot of sampling for one album. But it all works so well that it doesn't matter, especially in "Centuries," because who else remembers not being able to get "Tom's Diner" out of their head after they first heard it? Same applies to "Centuries."
Of course, this album is still the old Fall Out Boy from before the hiatus, to an extent, meaning that it is angsty and in your face. There's not much that's mellow about, so if you're looking for a quiet, summer album, look somewhere else. It's a little bit beautiful, definitely psycho. And that's what makes it some of Fall Out Boy's best music.