Album Review: American Beauty/American Psycho

Fall Out Boy holds a special place in the hearts of many millennials. The band got us through the most difficult times of our middle school years with emo/pop-punk hits such as “Sugar, We’re Goin Down” and “Dance, Dance.” Many loyal fans rejoiced to the sounds of the band’s sixth studio album American Beauty/American Psycho, on Jan. 20 FOB has certainly gone through its share of ups and downs in the past decade. The boys experienced a fast rise to fame, garnering a cult following among pop punk-obsessed youth following the release of From Under the Cork Tree in the early 2000s. A few years later, lead singer Patrick Stump’s arrest in 2009 and separate internal issues led to the band’s brief hiatus.

FOB’s first album post-hiatus Save Rock and Roll introduced a new era for the band. With the band adopting a much more heavily-produced sound and pop style, many loyal fans felt cheated. As one of their die-hard fans during my pre-teen years, I am certainly biased––FOB will always be one of my guilty pleasures.

American Beauty/American Psycho follows very closely in the footsteps of Save Rock and Roll. Every song carries with it a pounding drumbeat, fuzzy electric guitar and an overproduced techno sound. It’s disappointing how similar each song sounds. It seems this is the end of the constructed emo-rock songs that made us fall in love with FOB in the first place.

The album starts off with “Irresistible.” This song sets the scene for the rest of the album very well, beginning with horn sounds and a kicking bass drum. It’s impossible not to bop your head along but the song is overproduced to the point of sounding cheesy. There are a lot of unnecessary synths and effects on Stump’s vocals.

The biggest hit off the album so far is “Centuries.” This song is definitely one of the more interesting ones on American Beauty/American Psycho. It starts off quietly with a sample of Suzanne Vega’s “Tom’s Diner,” building into a dramatic anthem featuring FOB’s signature misunderstood youth lyricism. The incorporation of the minimalistic “Tom’s Diner” makes for an interesting spin on a popular 1980s song. It also makes “Centuries” feel fuller and more cohesive.

“Fourth of July” is another popular song off American Beauty/American Psycho, but it pretty much sums up my dissatisfaction with the album. It has the potential for greatness but the true sound of Stump’s incredible voice is lost in a frenzy of electronic effects. What initially made the band so wildly popular was its infectious melodies and simplistic song construction. Those songs were easy to sing along to and could be listened to infinitely without getting boring. These newer tracks are more complex in many ways, but they are also less memorable,

This isn’t to say that I won’t be enjoying American Beauty/American Psycho on the regular––the songs are extremely catchy. As a whole, the album is fun to listen to, but its good qualities seem to end there.

With this new release, the band is unable to establish a strong connection to its audience the way longtime fans would have hoped. Longtime fans such as myself will invariably feel let down, but perhaps this new musical direction will endear the band to a new generation of listeners.

 

Rating: 3/4