Album Review “American Beauty/American Psycho”
January 28, 2015
They only released their first album, Take This to Your Grave, in 2003 but Fall Out Boy has been topping charts since the release of their 2005 single “Dance, Dance,” which peaked at number nine on the Billboard Hot 100. Since then, they have continued to wow audiences. Their album Infinity on High (2007) produced two smash hits: “Thnks fr th Mmrs” reached number 11 and “This Ain’t A Scene, It’s An Arms Race” reached number two. Over the years, they have accumulated many Kerrang!, Teen Choice, and MTV awards, and have produced five successful records.
In early 2015, they released their sixth album: American Beauty/American Psycho. I had the pleasure of listening to it and while some of the songs were a bit repetitive, I appreciated the synthetic style and lead singer Patrick Stump’s commanding voice.
The opening track on the album, “Irresistible,” has a heavy brass sound and great guitar chords to back a piece with softer vocals. The sound is iconic of Fall Out Boy, but I felt that it didn’t really stand out. The lyrics were well-written but not enough to make up for the overall mediocrity of the song.
The album’s titular track “American Beauty/American Psycho” was released in the UK in November of last year and has climbed 58 spots on the UK Singles Chart to its current spot at no. 89. The song is fast-paced and I really like the drawn out “oh” after “psycho.” There is also one part in the song with chants of “I’m an American,” which I think is cool.
The third song on the album is popular American single “Centuries.” The intro that comes back throughout the song (“doot-doot-doo-doo”) is an excerpt from Suzanne Vega’s 1987 hit “Tom’s Diner.” I liked it at first, but local radio stations play it on heavy rotation, and I have grown a bit weary of hearing it.
I would describe the next song, “The Kids Aren’t Alright,” as an upbeat sorrow ballad. It begins with whistling and a softer sound, then slowly speeds up in tempo. It reminds me a bit of “Alone, Together,” a popular hit from their last album Save Rock and Roll. The title itself is a reference to The Who’s “The Kids Are Alright,” from their debut album.
The fifth track, “Uma Thurman,” is probably my favorite on the album. Named for the actress of the same name, this song is incredibly catchy and features a piano beneath layers of synthetic noise. The song’s lyric “she wants to dance like Uma Thurman,” refers to Thurman’s iconic barefoot dance with John Travolta’s character in Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction. This song also copies the theme from 60’s sitcom The Munsters, which fits in nicely.
Next, Fall Out Boy features a more vulnerable “Jet Pack Blues.” There is a heartbeat-like rhythm guiding the song and Stump’s voice travels to a falsetto in some places, making the listener feel an odd twinge of heartbreak. The lyrics in this one resonated with me the most, with such gems as “She’s in a long black coat tonight/Waiting for me in the downpour outside/She’s singing ‘Baby come home’ in a melody of tears/While the rhythm of the rain keeps time.”
Number seven, “Novocaine,” opens with a sharp, angry guitar riff. It almost reminds me of the style of newer Maroon 5 music; Stump still has his signature vocals, but it parallels the high pitch lull of Adam Levine’s voice. The word “numb” was what stuck out the most, which makes sense since the song is titled “Novocaine.”
“Fourth of July” almost sounds like fireworks, going along with the theme of Independence Day. I heard a lot of similarities between the song and the soundtrack of the Canadian theatrical Cirque du Soleil shows. “Favorite Record” featured a dominant tambourine and fun “oh woah oh” noises, but I got bored with its repetitive nature.
Their song “Immortals” was recently featured in Disney movie “Big Hero 6.” It opens with a Far Eastern sound and sounds like a glorified version of “Centuries.” I feel it was a good choice for the film though, which you can view a preview of here.
To finish out the album, “Twin Skeleton’s (Hotel in NYC)” has a bit of a psychedelic sound. Like most of their songs, it is grounded by a strong drum beat. The song ends with what sounds like three people vocalizing, completing an album that I’m sure will be remembered for centuries, just as Fall Out Boy wanted it to be.
American Beauty/American Psycho was a fitting title for this album because a lot of the songs referenced American culture. Things like American cinema (Pulp Fiction), television (The Munsters), and holidays (“Fourth of July”) seemed to be a common theme throughout. This all-American album is a perfect addition to any Fall Out Boy collection.