By Jeremy Quintin
I’ve been asked to write about Fall Out Boy due to their recent reformation and announcement of a new album, which they plan to release on April 16. There is only one issue with me writing this article. I know very little if hardly anything about FOB. I haven’t listened to their music since high school, and even then I could count all the songs I knew of theirs on one hand. At that time they were simply the band that sounded like Panic! At the Disco, and while none of their songs sounded bad in my mind, none held a particular interest for me either.
I would never consider myself the most appropriate person to write an overview of their career, but perhaps their almost complete removal from my life has made me a relatively unbiased judge of their sound.
Before starting this article, I did make the effort to expand my library of songs to get a more realistic gauge of how they’ve changed their style over the past decade. What I’ve learned is somewhat hard to describe. FOB has a pretty peculiar writing style that would not be obvious on first appearance. Looking at any single set of their lyrics, one could fairly make the bet that they are either talking about a girl or a relationship. That’s no surprise in pop-punk, a genre which is riddled by song after song of the same contextual material which relies completely on clever rhetoric to keep the story interesting.
What is surprising is how FOB makes their lyrics interesting through a remix culture approach, meaning that they make use of some other artists’ content in their own songs. For example, some lines in “Thnks fr th Mmrs” are taken from the movie “Closer,” a pop-culture reference about deceit in two relationships. This enriches the context of the song, and the line becomes a clever prewritten lyric in conjunction with brand new ones that represent the effect of pop-culture in our society as well as how it adds to our emotions.
Additionally the title of the song, which I believed represented texting language and thus a level of immaturity, is actually the band giving their record company a hard time for asking them to make their titles shorter. It just goes to show how creative one can get within a limited space, and how bad one can look for assuming. I appreciate their lyrics significantly more for this realization.
Musically speaking, I cannot say that I detect much difference from one song of theirs to the next. Yes they create a different melody, or different enough of a melody, each time, but the effect of each progression remains about the same to me. It’s a danceable, pop-punk song that shows little in terms of originality, but plenty in terms of recognizing what’s popular. Single chords can hold for entire 16 bars, and drum beats are exceptionally simplistic, but that’s what it takes to make a super catchy song.
Now their latest track, “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark,” seems to imply that FOB hates everything about who they used to be from 2009 and back. Hate is a strong word, but if your entire music video is a couple of people setting all of your old albums on fire, with their final intention of setting the actual band on fire while bound and gagged, then I think the point of self-loathing has been made quite clear. What this says about FOB’s apparently grim dark future is unclear at this point, but an album title with such a bold objective as “Save Rock and Roll” is bound to bring with it a number of neat surprises.