Fall Out Boy finally shines again

Jada Thomas, Staff Writer

Fall Out Boy, the popular midwestern pop-punk band composed of drummer Andy Hurley, vocalist Patrick Stump, guitarist Joe Trohman and bassist Pete Wentz, released their long-awaited eighth studio album, “So Much (For) Stardust,” on March 24. With its tight guitar riffs and heavy drums, this album satisfies fans who were unimpressed by the band’s last album, “MANIA,” which featured almost entirely pop elements, and those who yearned for influences from their older records. Rounding out at a runtime of 44 minutes with 13 tracks, “So Much (For) Stardust” is an album that fans who have a preference for Fall Out Boy’s older sound and fans who lean towards their newer music can both find enjoyment in listening to. 

The opening track, “Love From The Other Side,” was released as the first single from the album, and it created hopeful expectations that the three instrumentalists would once again get to display their talents rather than letting electronic and synth-like instrumentals do all the work as their previous album had. The second track, “Heartbreak Feels So Good,” delivers on that front and also features some playful vocals from Stump. However, the band was quick to squash the hope that these tracks seemingly gave fans — that they would be returning to their old sound — stating that this album would not be a “throwback record.

This becomes clear as the tracklist continues. In the third track, “Hold Me Like a Grudge,” there are noticeable influences from Fall Out Boy’s older records like “Infinity on High” and “Folie à Deux,” but there is something new sprinkled throughout the track that makes it fit seamlessly into the modern Fall Out Boy sound. The longer the album goes on, there are a couple more instances of the band’s older sound being blended with newer influences to create something fresh. For instance, there were hints of orchestral sounds in Fall Out Boy’s older records, but here those instrumentals are given prominence. On the tracks “I Am My Own Muse” and the title track — two standouts from the album — booming horns and crisp strings meld perfectly with the drums and guitar to form impressive songs that may go on to join their hit tracks like “Dance, Dance,” “Thnks Fr Th Mmrs” and “Centuries.”

At a couple of points on the album, the band leans entirely into some of their older gimmicks, notably the spoken word features that Wentz used to do in songs. An example of this is in the track “The Pink Seashell (feat. Ethan Hawke),” where Hawke, backed by an uplifting instrumental, recites a story of nostalgia, sadness, existentialism and optimism. Furthermore, the track “Baby Annihilation” features a spoken-word performance from Wentz himself that has a feeling of hopelessness to it, which coincides with the slight apocalyptic theme running through the album.

However, traces of the band’s older albums do not dominate this one; it still features traces of pop elements, although not as prominent as the ones on “MANIA.” Songs like “Fake Out,” “Flu Game” and “The Kintsugi Kid (Ten Years)” are very upbeat and undoubtedly lean more into the “pop” side of pop-punk while still fitting into the overarching sound of the record. Even the track “Heaven, Iowa,” although it eventually builds up to hard drums and shredding guitar riffs, starts out with the same synth-like sound from “MANIA,” proving that the band is not afraid to bring influences from even their most divisive album into their new content. 

As a whole, “So Much (For) Stardust” is an impressive album. It is diverse in how it blends influences from Fall Out Boy’s older and newer music into a sound that fits into its own category. It partially feels like it could be placed directly in the middle of their discography, but it also feels like it cannot, given the way it is influenced by how the band has evolved sonically over the years. Despite Fall Out Boy’s audience being divided in the past few years about the band’s trajectory, fans of both their older music or their newer sound can find something to love about this record. 

As of March 24, “So Much (For) Stardust” is available wherever music can be streamed.