Fall Out Boy decided to take an “indefinite hiatus” in 2009. One member admitted to feeling as though he was the ongoing target of rotten vegetables. Patrick Stump (vocalist) said, “At no other point in my professional career was I nearly booed off stages for playing new songs.” In the midst of all this, the cry for their return never diminished.
As a result, there’s absolutely no way the quartet’s hiatus-is-over album, Save Rock And Roll, could have lived up to the expectations placed upon it. So Fall Out Boy made the wise decision to write and record this album in secret, ensuring the only people they had to answer to were… themselves.
In fact, the rest of the album expands upon the hard-hitting genre blurring found within “The Phoenix” and “My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light ‘Em Up).” The rebel rally cry “Alone Together” is cast from a modern pop/R&B mold, while the whirling dance-rock highlight “Where Did The Party Go” boasts a disco-riffic bassline and “na-na-na” chorus cries, and “Death Valley” is fired-up soul-rock with a brief dubstep wobble. Meanwhile, “Miss Missing You” is an effervescent keyboard-pop anthem, the foot-stomping acoustic jam “Young Volcanoes” is a campfire-ready holler and the mid-tempo “Just One Yesterday” is aching torch-pop laced with brittle piano and vocal contributions from British singer Foxes. Every song on Save Rock And Roll boasts huge choruses and catchy hooks. In fact, the album is perfectly calibrated for Stump’s strengths as a vocalist; he sounds as confident as he’s ever sounded on a Fall Out Boy record.
But it’s the album’s final song, the “What A Catch, Donnie”-reminiscent title track, that gets at the heart of both the album and Fall Out Boy in 2013. A subdued, piano-driven tune featuring Elton John and strings from the London Symphony Orchestra, “Save Rock And Roll” reads like a series of Post-it notes the band wrote to themselves as they navigated their return. The lyrics declare that other acts besides Fall Out Boy are “the voice of [a] generation” further stating, “You are what you love/Not who loves you/In a world full of the word ‘yes’/I’m here to scream/No”—before ending in a confident declaration: “Oh no, we won’t go/’Cause we don’t know when to quit.” What didn’t kill Fall Out Boy clearly made them stronger.
Admittedly, it takes a few listens for Save Rock And Roll to click, and some songs are notably weaker than others (I’ll let you decide which ones). But overall, Save Rock And Roll is a blast of an album. It’s also gutsy: No matter what direction Fall Out Boy went, people would be disappointed. So to release a collection of music that’s a noticeable progression from their past albums—but one done entirely on their own terms—is brave. Save Rock And Roll might not actually, well, save rock and roll—but it certainly has brought Fall Out Boy back from the brink.