—By Diana Tang—
“We’ll go down in history; remember me for centuries.” This line from Centuries is American Beauty/American Psycho in a nutshell; Fall Out Boy is once again making its mark on the modern rock world with its sixth album.
After a disastrous two-year hiatus in which Andy Hurley suffered from depression and Pete Wentz experienced a divorce, the band’s sound has changed. Although 2013’s Save Rock and Roll didn’t embrace the transformation, American Beauty/American Psycho, abbreviated AB/AP, brings us something fresh with a more electro, pop-punk sound, and songs that are laden with references to personal experiences.
The first single released, “Centuries,” is about a David and Goliath struggle, with the weak prevailing against the strong. Yet there isn’t a single clichéd line in the lyrics; Pete Wentz continues to write creative lyrics despite the change in style. From “I was born inside my dreams” to “we are the poisoned youth,” it’s obvious that the lyrics mirror the hardships the band overcame during its hiatus.
But the best part of the song is not the realistic element, but the roller coaster ride of dynamics that just screams of ancient Rome and gladiator fights. The strong instrumentals fade out when Patrick Stump belts out “heart,” in the line “heavy metal broke my heart,” an octave higher than the rest of the song, finally showing off his strong vocals. He can actually sing!
Contrasting with their expected fast-paced songs are the tracks that fans will sway along to, such as “The Kids Aren’t Alright,” a soft and slow tune with a cute whistled intro. AB/AP has so much more variety than most of Fall Out Boy’s older albums, showing that band is ready to venture into a new realm of music.
This diversity reveals a kind of depth that their other albums couldn’t, showcasing not only Fall Out Boy’s vocal and songwriting ability, but also its personality. The band members are no longer distant rock idols who write good club tracks, but real people who are fighting their own demons and trying to win wars.
The only problem I have with the album is the title track, “American Beauty/American Psycho.” The vocals are completely overwhelmed by the raging electric guitar and cymbals, and the tune is overly repetitive; this song is probably more disorganized than my bedroom, and that’s saying something.
The theme of this album—fighting against all odds—is so closely linked to the personal lives of the band members that the raw emotions couldn’t have been better expressed in the songs. The scary part is that the band members are still growing, learning, and morphing, and they make this transition feel seamless and simple. Who knows where they’ll be in the next few years? There’s only one thing we know for sure: it won’t take a century to figure out that Fall Out Boy is changing the definition of rock music, one song at a time.