San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

Album Review: So much for ‘fall offs’: Fall Out Boy’s stardust shimmers once again

Fall Out Boy’s eighth studio album is an imperfect, yet endearing offering
Photo Courtesy of Fall Out Boy’s Instagram
Joe Trohman, Andy Hurley, Patrick Stump and Pete Wentz (left to right) are back after a five-year album hiatus.

Fall Out Boy? More like fell off boy.”

If you search that phrase on Twitter, more than 20 people shared that sentiment. If you expanded your search to other platforms, you’d likely find a lot more.

I was hooked by the band saving rock ‘n roll, went back under the cork tree and passed through the carpal tunnel of love with Fall Out Boy. After that lengthy journey, it pains me to say that I agree with the keyboard warriors on Twitter.

Fall Out Boy was a pop-punk powerhouse in the 2000s, releasing smash hits such as “Sugar, We’re Going Down,” “Dance, Dance,” and “Thnks Fr Th Mmrs,” just to name a few. Their music bridged gaps between harder-edged rock music and danceable, catchy pop music. They captured the spirits of car-crashed hearts, west coast smokers and ‘suitehearts’ across the world.

Then the worst thing from 2008 happened. And no, I’m not talking about the stock market crash. Fall Out Boy broke up. 

Five years later, the group returned with a slicker, more contemporary sound. “Save Rock And Roll” was a happy medium between their old and new music, but “American Beauty, American Psycho” saw the band lean harder into a pop sound. “MANIA” was their most divisive record yet, as it embraced trap beats, electronic instruments and vapid lyricism.

There were glimpses of greatness, as seen on tracks like “Favorite Record,” “Rat a Tat” and “Wilson (Expensive Mistakes),” but many tracks lacked a distinct style and identity — one of the band’s calling cards.

With their latest record, Fall Out Boy is sounding a lot more like Fall Out Boy.

While the band denies that “So Much (For) Stardust” is a “throwback record,” it’s evident that the band felt a pull to revert back to their more angsty, punchier roots. The 808s are gone and the guitars are back. You can hear Andy Hurley drumming. It’s glorious.

This record is indulgent in the best way possible. There’s themes of yearning and love, lyrics about apocalypses and grudges and two dramatic interludes from Ethan Hawke and Pete Wentz (sure, why not). In the vein of glam rock acts like Def Leppard and Aerosmith, this is a huge-sounding record with lots of Moxy. 

While there are some real lyrical clunkers throughout the record (“My mood board is just pictures of you,” “I feel so ‘A Star is Born’”) and occasional misfires (“So Good Right Now”), it’s evident that the band is having fun and being true to themselves.

Patrick Stump dials up the melodrama on “Heaven, Iowa,” opining on star-crossed lovers over a bed of synths and jagged guitars. “I Am My Own Muse” sounds like a theme for a menacing Disney villain. “Love From the Other Side” serves as an impactful scene-setter for the record, complete with an orchestral introduction.

“Hold Me Like a Grudge,” the third single from the record, is the most cohesive effort from the band. Stump’s lead vocals sound as fresh as ever and Wentz’s lyrics are on point. Joe Trohman contributes a heavy driving guitar riff and Hurley, as always, is solid on the drums.

“Fake Out” and “Heartbreak Feels So Good” are the most reminiscent of their previous three records, with the latter sounding like a spin on their 2013 track, “Young Volcanoes.” While Stump’s lead vocals can fill out an arena just fine, he does well on the quieter, more acoustic moments too.

Despite their focus on returning to form, the band finds ways to expand their sound.

“What a Time to be Alive” is one of the highlights of the record. Stump clearly graduated from the school of Earth, Wind and Fire, as he sings over a joyous, huge-sounding layer of instruments. Maybe I’m just a sucker for a good string section. 

“Flu Game,” another track on the second half of the record, didn’t do much for me but represents a fairly unique sound for the band.

The cumulative experience of “So Much (for) Stardust” is one of pure nostalgia. It’s not a perfect record by any means, but it has the emo spirit the band lacked in the 2010s. Unfortunately, we probably won’t see the band capture the sheer earworminess of “Infinity on High” or the creative heights of “Folie a Deux.” But after a mess of an album in “MANIA,” “So Much (For) Stardust” is a huge step up.

So much for falloffs! The boys are (mostly) back!

About the Contributor
Noah Lyons, '23-24 Opinion Editor
Noah Lyons (he/him) is a Journalism major and transfer student from Irvine, California. Ever since he was young, he loved to tell stories and dive deep into his favorite subjects — sports, music, current events, and film. He joined the Daily Aztec in 2022, and has since covered the Wonderfront and Rolling Loud music festivals, attended advanced movie screenings and interviewed several musicians. When he isn't doing homework until midnight or writing articles, you can expect to see Noah searching for the best California burritos that San Diego has to offer or walking around campus listening to Bleachers and Paramore.
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San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913
Album Review: So much for ‘fall offs’: Fall Out Boy’s stardust shimmers once again