Time sometimes does wonders for a band, and one that has used it to their advantage multiple times is Fall Out Boy. The band first had a hiatus after 2008’s Folie à Deux divided fans and critics alike, while their second came along with everyone else’s in 2020. Reignited, the band have returned with new album So Much (For) Stardust, and a reinvigorated sound.
Initial single Love From The Other Side is accentuated with a lush string intro that adds a new texture to what was already a gorgeously melodic track. The following track, and subsequent single Heartbreak Feels So Good is a classic pop-rock track, with the addition of a post chorus singalong section. Patrick Stump’s soaring voice gives the track its defining Fall Out Boy stamp. The groove of Hold Me Like a Grudge will remind listeners of how competent the band are at creating danceable beats and catchy hooks. Vocally, Patrick hops across the words like a rapper, switching rhythms and patterns with ease. The guitar motif after the chorus is its own beast, both euphoric and nostalgic.
Heaven, Iowa brings the tempo down, but increases the intensity. The song would have fit perfectly into the soundtrack for Twilight back in 2008, but that’s no dig. If any band can return you to that moment in time and do it in a satisfying way, it’s Fall Out Boy. Pink Seashell is a further departure. The spoken word excerpt from a talk Ethan Hawke made about a conversation with his father is touching, gripped by a beautiful instrumental backing. I Am My Own Muse follows, picking the tempo back, chugging with a mixture of strings, brass and guitar. Before the vocals enter, it’s reminiscent of a Danny Elfman composition.
What a Time To Be Alive jumps with youthful energy, the pounding drums and exciting string arrangements leading the song. It hints at what the world has been through over the past few years, but stresses – both in Patrick’s performance and the upbeat, peppy nature of the instrumentation – that we’re through it, and now it’s time to start living again. The title track begins similarly to the first single, but takes an overall darker tone. It’s a mirror to the previous track, but acts as a suitable end to the album, concluding with just vocals fading out slowly.
So Much (For) Stardust isn’t so much a step backwards, but a reflection of the Fall Out Boy that was dominating the rock scene back in the mid noughties. Elements of their later work are apparent in the synths and arrangements, and there’s a maturity to the track list that can only be accomplished by age and craft, but overall it could be said that this album is a return to what they do best; solid pop rock bangers.
Writer and Musician, Ryan Bulbeck has been published with a number of online publications, and has worked with a myriad of great artists, both as a performer, and as a producer. His most recent band The 295 are still active, playing shows around the UK.