Emo punk/pop-rockers Fall Out Boy have returned with their eighth studio album, ‘So Much (For) Stardust’. It’s been a little over five years since the band has released a record, the last being 2018’s ‘Mania’. This album welcomes more of a familiar, yet fresh sound to the band. Returning to producer Neil Avron, who produced a number of their classic records to find that spark of creativity that made this band in the first place again. It showcases more of a return to a rock and alternative kind of sound for them, while it also mixes in poppier elements in slightly to some of these songs. I think this album will be a nice surprise to the fans who missed this kind of sound from them, and being able to dive into the instrumentals here again…which was sorely missed on the past few releases.
The record opens with the first single, “Love From the Other Side” and it was perfect to open this album and as a single too. It’s a huge anthem and comeback for this band to show fans they didn’t forget where they came from. It has huge ‘Infinity on High’ vibes, having a powerhouse of a chorus and the orchestral parts feel strategically placed to where it feels so rightfully put. It’s also a track that feels nostalgic, yet fresh (which will be a theme surprisingly throughout this album). We continue onto the second single right after, being “Heartbreak Feels So Good”. This song feels like a good mixture of the old and new eras of the band combined into one, a pop rock track done right if you will. It truly feels like this could’ve been released immediately after 2008’s ‘Folie à Deux’ and it would’ve felt right at home in their catalog. One thing I liked in particular was the lead guitar in the background of the chorus, which truly elevates how catchy it can be. And quoting the 2022 film “Nope” at the beginning of the song is an unexpected, yet cool thing to put in your lyrics. We carry on from the main singles to “Hold Me Like a Grudge”, which opens with a sexy bass line. It truly brings you back to the pop era of the 1980’s, like you’d wanna moonwalk all over again. This track has ‘Folie’ vibes as stated before, and I’m all here for it. I’d like to applaud singer/guitarist Patrick Stump on this one, it really showcases his ability as a vocalist and just how far he’s come in the long career of FOB.
We continue on with “Fake Out”, which already has the vibe of a pop-rock song done right. It feels like more of a ballad to this album, if I had to pick one out. And it also has the vibe of walking on the beach on a summer day as the sun’s setting, which I appreciate greatly. I’m always a sucker for Patrick‘s falsettos he just throws into songs, and no exception here as it’s showcased throughout the chorus. This track certainly is a contender for one of the catchiest songs on this record, and a highlight overall. We move onto track five, that being “Heaven, Iowa”. This song is probably the biggest surprise to me on this whole album, as it truly reminds us how good this band is at crafting a song from top to bottom. It starts off with Elton John-esque verses to an opera-like chorus, and it all builds to a full band into the second chorus and it’s done so beautifully. I think this track is gonna be a fan favorite off this album, and one I’m sure is going to be epic seeing in a live setting. We nearly close out the first half of the album with “So Good Right Now”. This track feels like it’s taken straight out of a Disney animated movie from the golden era in the best way, something like “The Jungle Book” or “A Goofy Movie” (as quoted by my friend). It’s just a song that makes you wanna strut down the sidewalk through town on a sunny day. It’s a really fun song to listen to, and a good song to just have on in the car on a nice day too I feel like.
We’re nearing the second half of the record with the first interlude, “The Pink Seashell” and let me tell you…it’s big on the Hawke…that is all. I should note here that the orchestra who worked on this album is totally killing it, it makes everything feel so grand and epic which is very necessary for an album such as this. And it’s even more apparent going into the next track, being “I Am My Own Muse”. Let me tell you, everything I said about the orchestra just then…they put in overtime for this one and it delivers in spades. Something I never fully appreciated from Fall Out Boy growing up was their theatrical side shown in their songs, and it comes back here and it feels glorious. This track marks another highlight from the album overall, as it feels epic and big in its structure. The theatricality continues with “Flu Game”, as it truly feels like it could’ve been a b-side from ‘Folie’ (another quote from my friend). The drums performed by drummer Andy Hurley especially shine on this track, particularly during the bridge into the last chorus…which feels magnificent. I’d like to imagine this could’ve been the direction after 2008 and it fits perfectly.
We’re on the final stretch of the album, starting with our last interlude in “Baby Annihilation”. Only thing I have to say about this one is how much I missed Pete Wentz‘s spoken word interludes on FOB albums…for as random and wild as they are. It continues on with “The Kintsugi Kid (Ten Years)”, which dives deeper into the pop rock aspect for this band once again. I feel as the melody of the verses feel oddly nostalgic of something familiar I’ve heard before. This would probably be my least favorite out of all the tracks on this record, and it can be a tad bit repetitive in parts. But it says a lot this being my least favorite, and I still find things to enjoy and appreciate from it. We reach the penultimate and my personal favorite track off this, “What a Time to Be Alive”. Right off the bat, it has 70’s vibes backed up by the horn section…which is absolutely popping off here. The chorus of this song feels the catchiest off the entire record, as it’s one for people to go back to and get stuck in their heads. And the bridge going into the last chorus, there’s that band I missed ever so much. We reach the final track, being the title track to cap things off. And once again, it just shows how well this band can craft a song start to finish. From a great chorus to bringing back lyrics from “Love From the Other Side” during the bridge, it really shows this band has found the passion again that they’d been lacking on their last couple records. And the gang vocals to end the song and close out the record just feels right and natural.
So to sum it all up, ‘So Much (For) Stardust’ is the best record FOB has given us since 2008 and I can say that without a doubt. It finds once again the passion and creativity that people loved from this band in the first place. I couldn’t find a single song on this record that felt boring or disingenuous, it feels like it’s all made with love and care into the music being created. This truly feels like it’s a spiritual successor to ‘Folie’ and I never thought I’d ever say that. Fall Out Boy is back in a huge way and I hope everyone is ready to welcome back one of the greatest alternative rock bands of our generation.
Check out the video for “Hold Me Like a Grudge” below.