Fall Out Boy are back with their first album since 2017, So Much (For) Stardust. The response to the first single ‘Love From the Other Side’ received a positive response from fans but what’s the rest of the album like?
‘Love From the Other Side’ definitely caught fans’ attention. The build of the intro, the story aspect of the song and of course the guitar focus that had been lacking in previous singles/albums. The single and the video suggested the band were going back to their roots, but there was still an air of apprehension, maybe it would just be for one or two tracks. Despite the band's journey to ‘Emo Island’ in the music video. The album was released on Friday, March 24th, and if you listened carefully a whole cohort of alternative music fans breathed a sigh of relief.
Singles from the album have been released in the order they fall on the tracklist. Starting with ‘Love from the Other Side’, next with ‘Heartbreak Feels so Good’, and finally their latest single released in tandem with the album ‘Hold Me Like a Grudge’. From the track names alone they arguably feel like they fit in more with the earlier days of Fall Out Boy’s discography rather than the latter. ‘Hold me Like a Grudge’ opens with a strong bass line that sucks you in, by the time Patrick Stump’s vocals come in you’re already hooked. If fans were still unsure whether the band were expanding on their original sound before this song’s this music video confirms it. The video continues on from Pete Wentz stage diving at the end of ‘This Aint a Scene, It’s an Arms Race’. The first three songs of the album certainly seem to solidify the theme this era has taken and each one is as catchy as the last, great! However, now it’s into uncharted territory as they reach track four, ‘Fake Out’.
This is the first track not to be released as a single (as of yet). After the pacing of the first three ‘Fake Out’ slows down the tempo. The intro sounds like it would be comfortable in an early 2000s teen movie, where the protagonists reminisce on the hardship they have overcome. The song certainly has a “poppier” vibe but it also gives a spotlight to Stump’s vocal range. Lyrically it’s strong, with lines such as “make no plans and none can be broken” echoing in the pre-chorus. Next up is ‘Heaven, Iowa’. Again we have a slower intro, consisting of Stump's almost isolated vocals. This one feels heavier with emotion as if it's a message to a past lover or even a past self. The song is constantly building up and it’s my prediction that should they choose to play it live it’s going to go hard. Concertgoers will scream the line “Scar crossed lovers, Forever” cathartically. Then they’ll get the chance to wind down before the next song as this song closes the same as it opens, albeit it sounds different after hearing the story it belongs to.
After that emotional rollercoaster, the listener is given ‘ So Good Right Now’. Which is quite the change of pace, sounding more like a cross between Patrick Stump’s solo album Soul Punk and first post-hiatus album Save Rock and Roll. This song is definitely a dancing one, especially listening chronologically a bit of pick me up is needed. Following this track after a brief interlude narrated by Ethan Hawke, is potentially my own favourite song off the album, ‘I am My Own Muse’. I can say hand on heart this track is going to go hard at live shows. Its sound is similar to the first two singles released, with dramatic intros, this one feels almost cinematic in how it builds. A track like this falling in the middle of the album really solidified what they set out to do on this cycle. It takes everything that made them stand out back in 2004-6 and combined it with everything they have learned as people and musicians since. Even at the preview listening event people were getting excited about this song, there was a shift in the energy of the room when this song came on. ‘Flu Game’ being the following track seemed to carry a similar energy, but mainly this song really demonstrated each member's talents. Something that I felt could be heard on Paramore’s latest album can be heard on this one, there are more spotlight moments for each member. It sounds like a more collaborative album with each member's voice being taken on board.
Entering the latter half of the album, with three songs left: ‘The Kintsugi Kid (ten years)’, What a Time to be Alive’ and the title track ‘So Much (For) Stardust’. However, before getting into these tracks it is worth highlighting a track titled ‘Baby Annihilation’, which is a Pete Wentz spoken word piece. Wentz’s poetry used to be a regular appearance on early Fall Out Boy albums, usually at the end of songs ’20 Dollar Nose Bleed’ being one. It is yet another signifier that they decided to throw back to their earlier music for this one. ‘The Kintsugi Kid (ten years)’ has a similar sound to tracks from Save Rock and Roll. It’s emotional, without being too heavy or going too hard. The song sounds like it tells the story of Fall Out Boy and the journey some or all of the members have been on, as it’s no secret they all had their struggles over the years. The tracks placement towards the end of the album seems deliberate and well thought out as the previous tracks had obvious throws to past Fall Out Boy songs, this one reminds the listener of the band's journey as people.
Once again picking the energy up after an emotional one the penultimate track is ‘What a Time to be Alive’. It has a big band playing once again, high tempo, one you can dance to and seemingly a lot of fun but as you hear the lyrics it’s clear the title is a play on the phrase usually used in a positive sense the song highlights the reasons why it isn’t quite a great time to be alive but it certainly is a time. And then finally, the album closes on the title track ‘So Much (For) Stardust’. A close contender for my personal favourite song off the album. The song brings together the entire album, bringing in lines from ‘Love From the Other Side’ taking the album full circle. Once again this a song that each member shines on without taking away from another. Patrick Stump demonstrating his impressive lower registry, Joe Trohmans guitar skills are finally being given the attention they deserve once again. Andy Hurley goes hard on the Drums for the closing song and of course, Pete Wentz kills it on the bass all these elements are perfectly melded with dramatic string and wind instruments. It was the perfect closer to an album that takes the listener on an emotional and nostalgic journey.
The album is by no means a pre-hiatus Fall Out Boy record, and no one should have expected it to be. It has been 14 years since the infamous hiatus and 10 years since their return. All four members have grown as people and as musicians since those days. It would be foolish to expect an Infinity on High 2.0, and I don’t think people would enjoy it as much as they think. Having said that this new album is certainly a homage to their past selves, and the fans they made back then. In my opinion, it encapsulated all that Fall Out Boy was and married it with who they are today. If you told a 2009 Fall Out Boy fan or even a 2017 fan that in 2023 they would produce this album and that they all seem genuinely happy to be in a band and making music together, they’d have a hard time believing it. Overall I would give this album 8/10. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I will be adding it to most of my playlists however there are a couple of songs that took a couple of listens to get behind, such as ‘So Good Right Now’. BUT that is just my opinion, let us know on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter what your opinions are of it!