The blaring horns (isn’t everyone using those these days?) on the opening track of Fall Out Boy’s new album American Beauty/American Psycho are a flashy spectacle to be sure, but the album as a whole doesn’t offer much more than what we’ve already heard from them.
Save Rock and Roll, their 2013 album, was a tour de force of a record, using both catchy anthemic hooks and compelling guest vocals to create a musically cohesive but diverse enough collection of songs. American Beauty/American Psycho doesn’t quite hit the same spot. The aforementioned premiere song ‘Irresistible’ is well buoyed on the catchy horn hooks and is equally catchy.
The lyrics themselves explore the same tropes: love, relationships, the giddy moments in the flashlights when you see a person for the first time or you’re kept up late at night, thinking of them or reminiscing. Fall Out Boy has always been good at expressing the hopes and tribulations of the young without making it seem overly sappy or sentimental, and their new record again carries on this trend.
Songs like ‘Uma Thurman’ or ‘Fourth of July’ serve up easy, appeal-to-masses pop rock.’ ‘Centuries’ is typical of the strong vocals that Patrick Stump is well known for. He conviction certainly helps lyrics such as ‘we’ll go down in history/remember me for centuries’.
However, at this point in the review I almost feel like I’m describing the same thing over and over: there are catchy beats, a well blended cross of pop/rock and… that’s kind of it. Where American Beauty/American Psycho disappoints is of course something that will serve loyal fans of the band well. It’s an approach certainly justified, of course: why change a formula that works and attracts many fans. Unfortunately on their now sixth album I think they’ve stuck to safe and too similar, making many of the songs non-entities when people compare it to their previous material.
Beyond being a good entry into the band in these days of more baby faced ‘pop rockers’ and a way to show that pop-rock can still involve headbanging, American Beauty/American Psycho is not much more. It’s a welcome contrast in the pop music landscape for sure, contrasting against the utterly EDM dominated market, but it’s not a grabbing record overall. That’s not to say there isn’t anything to like in the forty minute run time of the album – I’m definitely giving Irresistible several more spins before I’m done writing this – but I think Fall Out Boy can serve up something more interesting for sure.