The newest album by Fall Out Boy, titled “So Much (For) Stardust,” proves it was never just a phase, mom. The eighth album sees the band going back to their earlier work in more ways than one without feeling played out. The album feels like a reaffirmation by the band of what made them great with the intent to move forward.
This album balances long ballads with shorter pieces of spoken poetry and monologues. This album is longer than the band's previous three albums with 13 tracks coming in at a total of 44 minutes and 20 seconds. Fall Out Boy makes good use of the time, repeating themes of moving on — but still holding on — throughout the album.
Like most Fall Out Boy records, the majority of the songs focus on love lost, especially the first half of the album, as well as love that was never there. The song “The Pink Seashell” effectively creates a divide between focusing on love and other parts of life without taking the listener out of the mood.
The album starts with the song “Love From The Other Side,” an over-four-minute track, and ends with “So Much (For) Stardust,” which sits closer to five minutes. Both songs use string instruments and the repetition of lyrics to tie together the album in a way that leaves the listener satisfied. “I Am My Own Muse” uses similar strings to create a grounding point in the middle, bringing the sound back to the beginning while still moving the album forward.
Fall Out Boy explores many different styles of song on the album. “Hold Me Like A Grudge” manages to sound new, but at the same time, it would fit perfectly on Fall Out Boy’s 2008 album “Folie á Deux.” “So Good Right Now” sounds like it was inspired by the music of the 1950s yet still maintains the heavy drumming that is so prevalent on their tracks.
This album is entirely danceable, something that every good Fall Out Boy album should be. Tracks like “Heartbreak Feels So Good,” “Fake Out” and “Flu Game” almost directly encourage one to dance. “The Kintsugi Kid (Ten Years)” sounds like something out of the 1980s with a heavy amount of synthesizer that makes sense with “The Karate Kid”-inspired title.
I was concerned when I saw one of the tracks was going to feature Ethan Hawke. However, I was delightfully surprised to find that the track “The Pink Seashell” uses his monologue about life from the film “Reality Bites” to great effect over instrumentals that fit perfectly with the album. That song and “Heaven, Iowa” keep with Fall Out Boy’s long-standing tradition of referencing movies in the song titles and lyrics.
Toward the end of the album, Pete Wentz, bassist and main lyricist, performs spoken-word poetry on “Baby Annihilation” over moody instrumentals that feel like something out of “Twin Peaks.” This hearkens back to Fall Out Boy’s first three albums where many songs ended in a similar way without the “Twin Peaks” music. This song is a perfect transition into the second half of the album that deals with more topics related to isolation.
This album is also mixed well. Lead singer Patrick Stump’s voice is strong, yet it never overtakes any of the instrumentals. The drums, bass and guitar all have their chance to shine. Stump also incorporates strings and brass in a manner that doesn’t cancel out the rock nature of the pieces.
As much as I love the album, I’m tired of hearing about the COVID-19 pandemic in terms of music. Fall Out Boy manages to make an upbeat and catchy song about quarantine and isolation, but the line “livestream the apocalypse” from “What A Time To Be Alive” feels tired.
Overall, this album lived up to my expectations and I’d recommend it to anyone who grew up on Fall Out Boy or bands like them. I have a tradition of listening to all the previous Fall Out Boy albums before a new one comes out and I can confidently say that this one fits right in. It may tread some of the same ground, but it makes it fun: what more can you ask?
Marcela Johnson is a freelance reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @DailyLobo
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Marcela Johnson is a freelance reporter for the Daily Lobo, and the editor-in-chief of Limina: UNM Nonfiction Review.