On February 4, 2013, pop-emo-rock band Fall Out Boy announced that they were reuniting with an album due out in May, a summer tour, and a brand new single with a Fall Out Boy-length title called “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light ‘Em Up).” The band had been working in secret for a year and a half to create the new album, working on it alongside their solo projects. The news was incredibly well received by their fans and the music community—so well received that their tour sold out in minutes and they added a stadium tour for the fans that couldn’t get tickets the first time around. After hearing the enthusiastic response from their fans and noting that the album was ready to go anyway, the band decided to move up the album for an April release.
Here’s a song by song breakdown before Tuesday’s release of Save Rock And Roll!
1. “THE PHOENIX”
The metaphor is tough to miss when it comes to this song—what better way to kick of a reunion album than with a song named after a chronically regenerated mythological bird? That’s right. There IS no better way. This track starts out with an intense string arrangement that builds into a loud, fast declaration of purpose.
Standout lyric: “I’m gonna change you/Like a remix/Then I’ll raise you/Like a phoenix”
2. “MY SONGS KNOW WHAT YOU DID IN THE DARK (LIGHT EM UP)”
I would say that I have an almost embarrassing amount of love for this song, but that would imply that I have shame, which I don’t—otherwise I wouldn’t have been singing along to it in an Old Navy the other day. This was the perfect single for Fall Out Boy’s comeback—it’s clever, it’s dark, and it’s catchy without being repetitive and cloying.
Standout lyric: All of them. Oh fine: “I’ve got the scars from tomorrow and I wish you could see/That you’re the antidote for everything except for me”
3. “ALONE TOGETHER”
With its staying young forever message, I feel like this song could be the bridge between Fall Out Boy’s existing fans (now in their 20s) and younger audiences currently in high school. It has a bit more of a pop sound than their other songs—it’s a bit lighter, and the guitar riff behind the line “I’m outside the door/Invite me in” is far more pop-sounding than Fall Out Boy has previously sounded.
Standout lyric: “I don’t know where you’re going/But do you got room for one more troubled soul?”
4. WHERE DID THE PARTY GO”
While this song also has a lighter, less angsty tone than older Fall Out Boy tracks, it’s different sort of light than “Alone Together.” It’s slightly reminiscent of lead singer Patrick Stump’s solo work, which could be indicative of a new fusion of sounds, courtesy of the band’s break and work on other projects. Thematically, it seems like it could be the sequel to “7 Minutes in Heaven (Atavan Halen)” that just doesn’t care as much.
Standout lyric: “Silent film stars stuck in talking cinema life/So let’s fade away together one dream at a time”
5. “JUST ONE YESTERDAY” (featuring Foxes)
This song about looking towards the past rather than the present or future (the anti-carpe diem, if you will) shows Fall Out Boy’s experimentation with different audio effects. It also shows that Fall Out Boy might be more mature, but they’re not entirely letting go of their emo thing—after all, one of the lyrics in this one is “Letting people down is my thing, babe.” The haunting female accompaniment of Foxes works well with Patrick Stump’s vocals, though their solo lost me entirely.
Standout lyric: “Anything you say can and will be held against you/So only say my name/It will be held against you/If heaven’s grief brings hell’s rain/Then I’d trade all my tomorrows for just one yesterday”
6. “THE MIGHTY FALL” (featuring Big Sean)
Oddly, the collaboration between Fall Out Boy and Big Sean reminds me of the collaboration between Blondie and Coolio on “No Exit.” I found the collaboration between band and rap artist to be a great thing—there’s something about Fall Out Boy’s songs that lend themselves well to rap accompaniment. See: “Thriller” from Fall Out Boy’s Infinity on High, in which Jay-Z makes a guest appearance.
Standout lyric: “Baby we should have left our love/In the gutter where we found it”
7. “MISS MISSING YOU”
Maybe it’s that Fall Out Boy’s sound is maturing, but this song is calmly wistful rather than angsty. It’s about holding the idea of someone rather than the person themselves close to you—an honest and different song topic. The picket fence metaphor is perfect.
Standout lyric: “Baby you were my picket fence/I’ll miss missing you now and then“
8. “DEATH VALLEY”
The song itself is about staying and feeling alive in a small town doing its best to kill you. While the sound of this song isn’t something I’ve ever heard from Fall Out Boy before, it features standard Fall Out Boy optimism, as can be seen below.
Standout lyric: “We’re gonna die/It’s just a matter of time/Hard times come/Good times go”
9. “YOUNG VOLCANOES”
Full of rhythmic percussion, “Young Volcanoes” almost sounds like it belongs in a commercial. It’s rather apocalyptic, though there appears to be little care about that fact. Not my favorite off the album, however it does contain a pretty awesome lyric that can’t be denied.
Standout lyric: “We will teach you how to make boys next door out of assholes”
10. “RAT A TAT” (featuring Courtney Love)
While this song absolutely didn’t need to start out with “It’s Courtney, bitch” (a la Britney Spears, clearly), it’s an awesome track. It’s about life, death, and the nature of love. I was on the fence about Courtney Love’s involvement (getting past that opening line was tough), but ultimately I think her guest spot on the song was a cool and interesting choice to try.
Standout lyric: “To get on St. Peter’s list/But you need to lower the standards/Because it’s never/Getting any better than this”
11. “SAVE ROCK’N’ROLL” (featuring Elton John)
The backing track on this song quotes “Chicago is So Two Years Ago“ from Fall Out Boy’s 2003 album Take This to Your Grave—the throwback to one of their older songs was an awesome touch for their comeback album. This song is thoughtful and features Elton John—who would have thought this artist matchup would happen?
Standout lyric: “So fuck you and go cry me an ocean/And leave me be”—not really indicative of the rest of the song, but still great.
Overall, Save Rock and Roll is a great album—it’s obvious that Fall Out Boy’s sound has matured even more since their 2008 album Folie a Deux. The band featured a wide variety of performers in their guest spots on this album—with an Elton John collaboration sharing space with a risky Courtney Love guest spot, you know you have to check it out. If they create more albums like this one, I hope they keep their promise to their fans and stick around for along time.
Save Rock and Roll will be available in stores Tuesday, April 16th.