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Album Review: Fall Out Boy’s 'So Much (For) Stardust' is out of this world

Fall Out Boy’s five-year-long wait for its new record was certainly worth it, as the new album is absolutely stellar.

Fall Out Boy’s new album, “So Much (For) Stardust,” was released March 24. Prior to its full release, two singles along with their respective music videos, “Love From The Other Side” and “Heartbreak Feels So Good,” were released. The band also teased the other tracks on its social media to raise more hype for the record.

Upon the album’s release, the band dropped another music video with its third single, “Hold Me Like A Grudge.” The song opens with a bouncing bassline that sounds oddly similar to the bassline in Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal.” Fall Out Boy singer Patrick Stump has a similar vocal tone during this track that also mimics the King of Pop’s iconic breathy and demanding vocals. The rest of the track is held together by its bright, almost chugging guitar riffs and drums with sparkling high hats.

The other tracks on the record stand out on their own in many different ways, but they still manage to sound coherent all the way through. Some tracks like “I Am My Own Muse” and “Love From The Other Side” feature massive orchestral parts that feel cinematic. In particular, “I Am My Own Muse” sounds heavily inspired by Danny Elfman’s scores from films like Tim Burton’s “Edward Scissorhands” (1990) and “Beetlejuice” (1988). 

Some tracks sound rock-arena massive with their heavy guitar and capturing drum fills. In particular, “Heaven, Iowa” starts off soft and slow, but blows the audience away once the massive drums and riveting guitar hit near the halfway point. The disco/funk-inspired track “What a Time To Be Alive” immediately hits the listener in the face with its slapstick drums, blaring horns and groovy bassline. The added rumbling guitar riffs and staccato strings make the song even more explosive.

There are two interlude-type songs that add to the record’s theme. The seventh track, “The Pink Seashell,” features a snippet of Ethan Hawk’s monologue from “Reality Bites” (1994), directed by Ben Stiller. Hawk’s character, Troy, talks about his father giving him a pink seashell and explains, “All the answers are all inside this.” In a 2020 interview with NME (three years before the album was released), Fall Out Boy bassist and lyricist Pete Wentz talks a little about this snippet from the movie: “He (Troy) realized the shell is empty and maybe life is pointless. 'It’s all a random lottery of meaningless tragedy in a series of near escapes,‘ he says. That’s why he enjoys the little things in life, like eating a burger or smoking a cigarette. I think there’s a whole record from that perspective, taking part in these little pieces of life without the consequence. It’s important to not forget those little granular moments of life. To me, there’s a record in that pink seashell.”

The next interlude-type song is “Baby Annihilation,” a spoken word track that highlights the anxiety and disheartenment of growing older and feeling “stuck in a wasteland we covered in glitter and broadcast just for a little serotonin.” Wentz delivers these words on top of a soft string orchestra, which makes the words seem less heavy than they actually are.

The entire album holds a similar connection between the instrumentals and lyrics. The instrumentals are high-energy and danceable while the lyrics contrastingly, feel like someone is stabbing the listener in the heart. In an interview between Apple Music’s Zane Lowe and Fall Out Boy, Lowe describes the new album as “doom-dancing,” which is extremely on-brand for Fall Out Boy. The band brings this topic up when it discusses “What a Time to Be Alive,” which Stump describes as “the saddest, most desperate song that you could hear at a wedding.” On top of its groovy instrumentals, the track showcases Wentz’s anxieties during the COVID-19 pandemic and quarantine with depressing lyrics like, “When, when, when I said, 'Leave me alone,‘ this isn't quite what I meant/I got the quarantine blues, bad news, what's left?/So, it seems the vulture's getting too full to fly, oh/What a time to be alive.”

The final song of the record, the title track, wraps up the record in a neat bow with melancholy strings and piano, soft horns and shimmering drums. This track sounds like the finale of a tragic and sorrowful musical. Stump belts the chorus, “So much for stardust/We thought we had it all, thought we had it all,” while the horns and drums bleed into the forefront. The bridge is beautifully heartbreaking as it reprises the lyrics from the beginning track, “In another life, you were the sunshine of my lifetime/What would you trade the pain for?/I’m not sure.” The piano, strings and crescendoing drums come together to create a cacophony of melancholia and yearning.

Overall, “So Much (For) Stardust” is one of the best records Fall Out Boy has put out in the last several years. This is not to put down any other records, but there is something about this record that is so “Fall Out Boy.” Each member – Stump, Wentz, lead guitarist Joe Trohman and drummer Andy Hurley – can be heard very distinctly on this record, and it makes fans feel more drawn into the sound. When building the album, Stump said on Radio X: “We were making this record like your grandmother making dinner where it was lovingly crafted and carefully made." You can hear how heartfelt this record is, and it makes it all the more extraordinary.

With that said, go check out the record, and don’t miss Fall Out Boy on its headlining tour, So Much For (Tour) Dust, coming this summer!

Rating: 5/5


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