Fall Out Boy’s newest album is a tongue-in-cheek trip down memory lane that’s sure to find favor with fans of their older work.
Fall Out Boy Shoots For the Moon with ‘So Much (For) Stardust’
A band surviving for over 20 years is an accomplishment, especially when that band is Fall Out Boy, whose legacy is marked by angsty lyrics and public breakups. After releasing their album “So Much (For) Stardust” on March 24, it’s clear they’re not just surviving — they’re thriving.
Fall Out Boy was formed in 2001 in Chicago and would later become one of the most popular pop-punk bands of all time, according to Variety. With eight studio albums and several side projects, they’ve dipped their Converse-clad toes into a wide range of styles, dabbling in genres like classical music and R&B.
Lead singer Patrick Stump said “So Much (For) Stardust” is like a missing link between their 2009 album “Folie à Deux” and their 2013 album “Save Rock and Roll,” according to an interview with NME. His description is spot-on — the transition from edgy, emo guitar to playful pop-punk gets clearer with every track.
“Love From the Other Side” starts the album off strong with a thunderous riff reminiscent of something from the 2011 video game Skyrim. Lead singer Patrick Stump sounds just like he did 10 years ago — stable and skilled.
Like the rest of the album, the track is rife with references to other moments in the Fall Out Boy mythos.
“Model house life meltdown / Still a modern dream let down,” Stump sings, possibly referring to lyricist and bassist Pete Wentz’s marriage to model Meagan Camper.
Stump sounds older in “Heartbreak Feels So Good,” but the drums sound like they came straight from the early aughts. The catchy chorus fits right in with Fall Out Boy classics like “Thnks fr th Mmrs” and “Sugar, We’re Goin’ Down.”
“Hold Me Like a Grudge” balances breathy vocals with a dramatic guitar. However, cringy clapping during the bridge ruins the mood, resembling a corny campfire singalong. In “What A Time To Be Alive,” Stump sings “Everything is lit except my serotonin,” which sounds more like millennial humor than thoughtful songwriting.
The fourth track “Fake Out” puts Stump’s falsetto in the spotlight. He rhymes “figure out” with “break out” and “fake out,” which isn’t exactly innovative. However, he makes up for it in “I Am My Own Muse,” where he sings in assonance like it’s a first language — “guitars,” “stars,” “charms” and “trumpets” string together naturally.
“Heaven, Iowa” is a slower song whose soft strumming lets the band explore a different dimension of death, with half-whispered lyrics about eulogies and the end of a party. The track is saturated with more references to movies like “Mulholland Drive” and older Fall Out Boy songs.
“Talking to the mirror, say, ‘Save your breath,’ / Half your life you’ve been hooked on death,’” Stump sings, referencing their 2003 song “Chicago Is So Two Years Ago,” where he sang, “She took me down and said, ‘Boys like you are overrated / So save your breath.’”
The dancy intro of “So Good Right Now” sounds like Wham’s “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go.” The final lines take a more solemn tone with talks of crashing, burning and making mistakes. This also recalls “Expensive Mistakes,” a song from Fall Out Boy’s critically-panned 2018 album “Mania.”
“The Pink Seashell,” which features Ethan Hawke, is a minute-long soundbite of the titular actor in a scene from “Reality Bites,” a 1994 rom-com about navigating adulthood, which seems random at first but works as a commentary on the album’s themes of growing older and fearing death.
The use of Hawke is yet another wink at fans, as he was married to Uma Thurman, the subject of a 2015 Fall Out Boy song. “The Pink Seashell” is also notable for its heavy promotion leading up to the album’s release — the band sent actual seashells to fans in the weeks leading up to its release, according to NME.
The theme of aging continues in “Flu Game,” which describes a candle running out of wax and the fear of not being remembered. These motifs are also relevant in the spoken-word soliloquy “Baby Annihilation,” where Wentz compares himself to melted wax on a birthday cake. The title is a nod to Michael Jordan’s 1997 “flu game,” in which the basketball icon won an NBA Finals game while battling extreme sickness.
Eleventh track “The Kintsugi Kid” refers to the Japanese art of kintsugi, or repairing broken pottery with golden resin to make an item beautiful again, according to The Smithsonian. The “chemical haze” in the chorus could refer to the previous line’s mention of pills and kintsugi’s process of detoxifying resin.
Titular track “So Much (For) Stardust” ends the album with a bang, blending strings, horns, piano and guitar. It’s a fitting overture for a tragic and triumphant album.
“I’m stuck in a lonely loop,” Stump croons. “Stars are the same as ever.”
The stars might be the same, but that doesn’t sound too bad for Fall Out Boy if they stick to quality albums like this.
“So Much (For) Stardust” is available to stream on all major platforms.
Featured image courtesy of Fueled by Ramen