Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Album Review: ‘American Beauty/American Psycho’


Fall Out Boy ruled the pop-punk music scene in the mid-2000s. At the height of their popularity, they scored top-40 hits with “Dance, Dance,” “Thnks fr th Mmrs” and “Sugar, We’re Goin Down.” However, in 2009 Fall Out Boy went on hiatus, much to the distress of their vast fan base.

When they returned to the music scene in 2012, the mainstream sound had changed. The pop-punk sound Fall Out Boy famously perfected was no longer heard on mainstream airwaves, now home to the bubblegum pop of today. Yet, Fall Out Boy beat the odds and gained mainstream success with their comeback album “Save Rock and Roll.” They proved they had the ability to remain successful in the age of bubblegum pop, something other pop-punk artists failed to do.

GETTY IMAGES Fall Out Boy falls short in their latest album  'American Beauty/American Psycho,' not matching up to their pop-rock hits that succeeded in the past.
Fall Out Boy falls short in their latest album
‘American Beauty/American Psycho,’ not matching up to their pop-rock hits that succeeded in the past.

Now, with the release of their sixth album, and the 10-year anniversary of their breakout album, “From Under the Cork Tree,” Fall Out Boy has expanded their boundaries further than they ever have on their latest release “American Beauty/American Psycho.”

“American Beauty/American Psycho” is a much more stylistically cohesive album than “Save Rock and Roll.” In writing this album, the band’s goal was to create a body of work where one could select any track, and it would still sound like it was from the same album. It is consistent to the point that songs begin to blend together.

Fall Out Boy has consistently written popular singles for their albums, and their ability to write catchy hooks is unparalleled. However, lyrically, “American Beauty/American Psycho” is not as strong as its predecessors. The songs are well-written and presented, but they do not properly reach Fall Out Boy’s full lyrical potential.

“Fourth of July” does not do justice to the band’s creative ability. At one point they sing, “I wish I’d known how much you loved me / I wish I cared enough to know / I’m sorry every song’s about you / The torture of small talk with someone you used to love.” These hackneyed phrases are a far cry from Fall Out Boy’s earlier, more memorable hits.

This album also has more pop-rock crossover songs than any of their previous albums. “Favorite Record” has the layered formatting of many pop songs of today, a formulaic characteristic that is uncommon in previous Fall Out Boy songs.

An interesting aspect of this album is the number of samples the band uses throughout. Sampling is a common tool used in hip-hop music to fuse together new sounds in an interesting way, but this is it out of the ordinary for the live instruments that Fall Out Boy usually relies on.

“American Beauty/American Psycho,” the title track, samples from “Too Fast for Love” by Mötley Crüe. “Fourth of July” relies heavily on the song “Lost It To Trying” by Son Lux, while “Centuries” contains the melody from “Tom’s Diner” by Suzanne Vega.

The oddest sample occurs on “Uma Thurman,” which samples the theme song from “The Munsters.” This peculiar mixture does not add anything to the overall strength of the album, and instead the samples distract from Fall Out Boy’s musical ability; all in all, they are an experiment gone wrong.

However much Fall Out Boy has succumbed to the generic elements of mainstream music, the album is filled with songs destined to become top-40 hits.

“Centuries,” the first single released from the album, was adopted by ESPN as the official theme song for the college football season. This allowed it to gain major mainstream success, but it also became overplayed. “Centuries” is filled with melodramatic piano melodies, hip-hop style drum breaks and layered choruses with lead singer Patrick Stump singing to the point where he is almost yelling.

“The Kids Aren’t Alright” is one of the slowest songs on the album, as well as one of the best. Lyrically, the song’s goal is to inform the listener that it is O.K. to not be all right all the time. The song is about as vulnerable as a Fall Out Boy song gets, yet only glimpses at this more tender side of the band.

The song “Irresistible” is said to be an ode to the romance of Sid and Nancy. The song retains the pop-punk feel that Fall Out Boy is famous for. The statement about deadly love fits the definition of an arena rock song with its driven guitar riffs and angsty vocals. The song also experiments with the use of horns, which positively adds to the overall dynamic of the song.

“Novocaine” is also composed to be an arena rock hit. It features a megaphone-type effect over Stump’s vocals and heavy guitars. Throughout the song, Stump scales his upper register, making the listener realize the talent he possesses. It stands out from the rest of the songs on the album with its different formula and unique sound.

“American Beauty/American Psycho” falls short of the greatness that Fall Out Boy achieved with “Save Rock and Roll.” They accomplished their goal of making a cohesive album, but in doing so, Fall Out Boy tries to make every song the “anthem” of the album, which makes it a bit domineering.

Consequently, the diversity necessary to produce a memorable album is not present. There is no hard-hitting pop-rock ballad or song that demonstrates a significant amount of vulnerability. The songs begin to blur together in a stream of trite lyrics and heavy guitar riffs. Nevertheless, the album will appeal to Fall Out Boy’s massive fan base, likely making it a huge commercial success.

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