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Pop-Culture Connoisseur: The Return of Fall Out Boy

-Brianna Huber

A large part of my high school career involved a fanatical love of the band Fall Out Boy that I shared with my friend Jessica. We drew silly fan art, had ridiculous jokes, went to their concert, bought t-shirts, spent way too much time on the band’s internet message boards, and collaborated on a work of fan fiction so great that nothing I’ve written in that genre since has come close to touching it.  When we graduated in 2009, the band announced that they were going on an indefinite hiatus to work on solo projects, and from that point they fell onto my back burner.  I still liked their music, but had come to terms with the idea that they wouldn’t be releasing any more new material as a group.

During the band’s time apart, lead singer Patrick Stump started a solo career and released an album titled Soul Punk in 2011; bassist and lyricist Pete Wentz started an electronic duo known as Black Cards; and guitarist Joe Trohman and drummer Andy Hurley jointly formed a metal band called The Damned Things.

Stump’s career was the only one I really looked into during the hiatus, and while his soulful voice is a huge part of what makes Fall Out Boy special, he just didn’t seem quite as amazing to me on his own.  It was the marriage of his vocals with Wentz’s brilliant lyrics that created real magic, and without the energetic pop-punk backing of Trohman and Hurley, Stump’s music just didn’t feel the same to me.

While each member of Fall Out Boy is talented on his own, the four of them are better together than apart, which is why I was thrilled when they announced on February 4th that their hiatus had come to an end.

Fall Out Boy came together in 2001 but didn’t achieve mainstream success until they released their 2005 album From Under the Cork Tree, which spawned the hit singles, “Sugar We’re Goin’ Down” and “Dance, Dance.”  After that, they released two more studio albums, Infinity on High and Folie à Deux, before parting ways.

The band announced their return with word of a new album, Save Rock and Roll, which is due out on May 6th and 7th.  Their first single off of the new album is titled, “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light em Up).”  One of the things I liked about the band pre-hiatus was their long, clever (often unrelated) song titles, so I’m glad to see that they may continue with that tradition on their new album.

Hearing the new single brings a sense of nostalgia. It reminds me of my early high school days spent geeking out with Jessica, but it also brings the potential for something new and different. I’ve changed in a lot of ways since my high school days, and I’m sure the band has too, so I’m curious to see where this reunion will lead.

The video for their new single features rapper 2Chainz and two women unloading band equipment from the back of a van and throwing it into a bonfire, along with past Fall Out Boy albums. At the end, 2Chainz opens the back of the van to reveal four men tied up with bags over their heads (Gee, I wonder who they could possibly be) before holding up a match with a grin. The video then cuts to the album title, “Save Rock and Roll.”

The most common interpretation of the video that I’ve read so far is that 2Chainz represents “bad music” and the members of Fall Out Boy represent “good music” in danger of being stamped out. It makes sense when considered along side the album title.

I’ve seen complaints online from some fans that Fall Out Boy has “sold out” and that their new song sounds too mainstream pop-y and too far removed from their earlier pop-punk sound, but I don’t necessarily have a problem with that.  All musicians should grow over time and an evolution of their sound is to be expected.  The true skill is to evolve as artists, but without losing touch with your roots completely.  Do Stump, Wentz, Trohman, and Hurley have the ability to do that?  I think so, but we’ll know for sure in three months.  To quote the front page of the band’s freshly redesigned website, “The future of Fall Out Boy starts now.”

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