“I can’t stop, can’t stop until we catch all your ears, though,” Fall Out Boy lead singer, Patrick Stump, mutters on track nine of the band’s newest album, “Somewhere between Mike Tyson and Van Gogh.”
Pete Wentz’s striking prose returns on Fall Out Boy’s latest release, “So Much (For) Stardust.” Relatable-yet-complex zingers about stardom paired with Stump’s emotional delivery challenge idealistic views of fame and rock ’n’ roll.
Fall Out Boy doesn’t shy away from their diverse influences. They interpolate “September” by Earth, Wind, and Fire into “What A Time to Be Alive” and reference the first punk-rock band the Ramones on “The Kintsugi Kid (Ten Years).” This “rock” band breaks all expectations for their assumed genre.
Kintsugi is a Japanese art form involving breaking pottery and painting it back together using glue mixed with gold dust. Like Kintsugi, “So Much (For) Stardust” pairs pieces of the past with a current analysis of the band’s fame, or “stardust.”
Hard work keeping dreams alive
After their major label debut in 2005, Fall Out Boy skyrocketed to the alternative front lines. Two more albums, touring, and burnout led them to take a three-year hiatus in 2009. Inspired by pop-punk’s disappearance from popular memory, the band returned with “Save Rock and Roll” in 2013.
“Pixie fever and angel dust” follows the band like a gambler follows their “racehorse on the track,” especially bassist– slash– frontman Pete Wentz, and Stump. Lead guitarist Joe Trohman and drummer Andy Hurley may only be recognizable to loyal fans like me, but they maintain the complex melodies on every song as Stump leads them through its verses.
While Fall Out Boy adamantly insists on not remaking their old music, I can’t help but notice the callbacks. The new album’s eighth track, titled “I Am My Own Muse,” is a direct reference to a quote by Nigerian performance artist Oroma Elewa and could be an indirect reference to the eighth track on “Infinity on High,” “Don’t You Know Who I Think I Am?” Both songs were co-produced by Stump.
Also, the band’s “Hold Me Like A Grudge” music video continues the narrative of their “This Ain’t a Scene, It’s an Arms Race” music video. “Arms Race” is their first musical acknowledgment of seemingly overnight fame.
So much stardust everywhere
Stardom is a complicated topic for famous musicians, especially if their fans view fame as happily-ever-after. Fall Out Boy’s fourth project, “Folie à Deux,” desperately fought against the fourth album curse in a dying genre.
The urgency underlying “Folie à Deux” is mimicked on “So Much (For) Stardust.” Both albums were produced by Neal Avron, a staple producer of alternative music, whose roster includes Weezer, Linkin Park, and The Wallflowers. On both records the band performs like it’s their last chance, but instead of a patchwork of anxiety, “So Much (For) Stardust” gratefully accepts every opportunity.
I find Fall Out Boy’s approach to fame valuable. The humble Illinois band understands celebrity is fleeting. That Best Rock Album Grammy nomination could have cemented their youthful hope of mainstream acceptance, yet the band escapes mainstream categories by avoiding trends and staying true to their musical roots.
With the end in mind, Fall Out Boy intentionally crafts every moment on this record with glittery reflection, but departs from nostalgia. Instead of forgetting about the past, they learn from their mistakes and carry their successes with them. “So Much (For) Stardust” begins a new journey for the band partnered with their old friends.