Fall Out Boy’s eighth album, “So Much (For) Stardust”, begins with graceful piano keys, cinematic string arrangements and the angry singing of vocalist Patrick Stamp. The Chicago band’s witty lyrics follow as the tempo picks up and Stump declares: “I would never go/I just want to be invited” right before he “sends his love from the other side of the apocalypse”. “Love From The Other Side” is a strong start for the band’s first compilation of music in more than five years, gently (and then abruptly) returning to the pop—punk roller coaster that FOB stumbled upon more than two decades ago.
“So Much (For) Stardust” marks the band’s multiple comebacks, not just a return to their incredible roots. Stump, bassist Pete Wentz, guitarist Joe Troman and drummer Andy Hurley chose Fueled By Ramen [Paramore, Meet Me @ The Altar] for the release, noting that it was the first time they had worked with the infamous emo label since their debut in 2003. Take this to the grave.” The band also returned to the studio with Neil Avron, who provided his production for some of FOB’s highlights, such as 2005’s “From Under The Cork Tree”, 2007’s “Infinity On High” and 2008’s “Folie À Deux”.
In the band’s latest album, 2018’s “Mania”, they traveled “to different worlds from the smart pop-punk” of their earlier releases, even using EDM in their track “Young And Menace”. But with their latest collection, evolution doesn’t look like a deviation from their past, but more like a study and expansion of it.
But even the most difficult moments of the album present something unexpected to the fans. Take the second track “Hold Me Like A Grudge”, which combines with retro disco funk, raising the bass part of “Another One Bites The Dust” with distorted guitars in bridge. “Heaven, Iowa” takes on the same slow-rising, rattling percussion as Phil Collins’ “In The Air Tonight” before Stump shouts out, “Scar crossed Lovers forever / I’m testing myself forever.” An entire orchestra is involved in “I Am My Own Muse”, as it corresponds to the same raging strings and hard guitar playing as Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir”. This album is full of bold jumps, and most of them land.
Speaking of audacity, there is a song on the album that is not a song at all, but a reproduction of the speech uttered by Ethan Hawke in the 1994 film Reality Bites. In The Pink Shell, Hawke’s character is fixated on the mundanity and meaninglessness of life. The band recently explained that their latest offering is a cure for this mindset, a way to find purpose by creating something new. Fits, right?
“So Much (For) Stardust” evokes all the nostalgia for the early 00s without any tricks. He also doesn’t take himself too seriously: see the spoken word “alligator prince with crocodile tears” in “Baby Annihilation.” The rock titan set himself the task of improving his sound in such a way that he could still calm the feelings of long-time fans, maybe frightening, but Fall Out Boy coped with it.
Release date: March 24, 2023
Label: Fueled by Ramen / Elektra