Album Review: Fall Out Boy – “American Beauty/American Psycho”

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DISCLAIMER: I am not one of those anti-Fall Out Boy heretics who thinks that anything that falls under the emo/emo-pop scope is complete and utter shit. I actually really like Fall Out Boy, heck I even listen to Panic! at the Disco from time to time. I actually own Save Rock And Roll, and contrary to popular belief, I actually like it. I will say the collaborations with Big Sean, Courtney Love, etc. kind of blew, but the other tracks were pretty fun. Especially the title track, the only collaboration I enjoyed (Elton John).

But I just think this album sucks.

Okay, I won’t be that harsh. The fact this os coming from the bombastic kings of modern pop-punk makes it hard to give this a bad review. I’m not going to completely write them off. There are peaks and valleys in this album for sure, and there’s no better way to illustrate that other than to take it track by track:

1. “Irresistible”

Great horn intro. The way the bass drum joins in adds to the effect as well. This song seems like it has the potential to be as epic of an intro as “The Phoenix” was. But unfortunately that’s right where this track peaks. These same horns are pervasive for the rest of the track, and become pretty boring when the third minute hits.

The opening verse isn’t bad either.

“Coming here unannounced, drag my nails on the tile
I just follow your scent
You can’t just follow my smile
Your flaws are aligned with this mood of mine”

Those are some great lyrics right there. But what kills me about this opening verse is the final line:

“You know you look so Seattle, but you feel so LA”

Toss “Dale” around a few times and sprinkle in some Spanish words, and you’ve got yourself a Pitbull song.

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Although I do enjoy Mr. Stump’s vocals (as well as the band’s use of gang vocals), the chorus of just screaming “IRRESISTIBLE” and leading into “OHH OH OH OH OHHHHOHOHOHHO”… it kills what could’ve been a pretty good song.

2. “American Beauty/American Psycho”

I don’t know about anyone else, but when I see these two titles/names or whatever you want to call them, I think of two things:

americanbeautymovie americanpsycho

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Those are two pretty great movies. This song (and this album) better live up to the precedents set by these films. And neither do.

Right off the bat, when the lyrics, “She’s an American beauty, I’m an American psycho” are shoved into the spotlight, it just seems like this whole concept is being forced. Like it didn’t happen organically. Like there’s no experience to back this whole thing up. The band even acknowledged that this album will sound different (pretty pop-rocky”), and that some will hate it and some will love it. It’s clear which side I fall on, not that I lose respect for Fall Out Boy for taking chances. They don’t have to answer to me either; I’m just a petty music/sports blogger.

The “OhohohOHoh”s or whatever are back in this track too. Write some damn lyrics. It just don’t like the way they’re vocals blend with the hyper-upbeat music in this song, which sounds like it could’ve been from a Motley Crue song.

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Ah, because it was.

3. “Centuries”

Everyone knows this song by now. Maybe it’s just because this song has become a sports-promotional anthem, but I’m not a huge fan of it. I didn’t like “Light Em Up” for similar reasons. But if there’s one thing I know about myself, it’s that I tend to shy away from songs like this, the ones that are shoved down my throat wherever I go (“I Wanna Get Better”, “Beverly Hills”). I’m not really digging the abrasive vocals either. Maybe I just don’t understand it. It sounds good at TD Garden, but not in my dorm room.

Also, that intro there is exactly what you think it is. Reservations for two at Tom’s Diner please.

4. “The Kids Aren’t Alright”

Oh, they did a cover of The Offspring! Cool!

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Wait…

Nope. They just wrote a different song with the same title. Sounds familiar.

I’ve grappled with this song. At first I hated it for that reason ^ alone. But its slowly starting to grow on me. It’s a power ballad that actually is very lyrically similar to it’s Offspring namesake, which itself is a play on The Who’s compilation The Kids Are Alright.

History Lesson:

“The Kids Aren’t Alright” came to fruition after The Offspring’s Dexter Holland visited his hometown to find that many people he knew had met tragic fates, such as heavy drug use, car accidents, and nervous breakdowns. The album it’s on, Americana, is meant to explore aspects in American life. The Fall Out Boy album is meant to explore the beautiful and the ugly (i.e.: “psycho”) ends of the spectrum. On The Offspring album, “The Kids Aren’t Alright” is really the only somber track on the album; the rest deal with more light-hearted aspects. So I guess there’s a lot of parallels between these two albums.

Fun Fact: “The Kids Aren’t Alright” by the Offspring is the most listened to song from the 1990’s as an entire decade on both Spotify and Last.fm. This better be good Fall Out Boy!

And the truth is, this song has grown on me. Since the album just came out, it’s unclear what influenced this song or if it’s just a song, but it sounds like the narrator had some sort homecoming where he finds out people he knew are not “alright”, which is a lyrical sugar-coating of the manifest content.

The ominous whistling (and after I tore apart Weezer’s “Da Vinci” last week for whistling, this is hard for me to say) and the bassline set the dark mood of this track. And for the first time (and possibly the last), the lyrics of this song are kind of…well…genius.

“Stuck in the jet wash
Bad trip I couldn’t get off
And maybe I bit off more than I could chew
And overhead of the aqua blue

Fall to your knees, bring on the rapture
Blessed be the boys time can’t capture
On film or between the sheets
I always fall from your window to the pitch black streets

And with the black banners raised
As the crooked smiles fade
Former heroes who quit too late
Who just wanna fill up the trophy case again”

5. “Uma Thurman”

When I saw this song name, I once again thought of something else.

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There’s Uma Thurman from the train wreck of a film that was Batman & Robin.

And here’s a lyric from the Fall Out Boy song:

“Put your, put your v-v-v-venom in me”

Now they’re definitely referencing Batman.

The instruments also convey a very Batman-esque sound. The acoustic guitar creates a typical crime sound, especially the way it’s immediately followed up by the horns.

That doesn’t mean this song is good. Because its not. “She wants to dance like Uma Thurman” is not a good lyric, especially after it’s recited for the hundredth time. And that eerily familiar riff is, in fact, the theme song from “The Munsters”.

6. “Jet Pack Blues”

I like the segue between this song and the previous track, but to be honest I zone out every time I listen to this song. There’s just nothing here. This song appears to be about a breakup/divorce, with the man leaving the woman. The whole song is the woman repeatedly saying, “Baby, come home”, with the man pondering if he ever loved her. I guess that’s a deep meaning, but the track fails to evoke any sort of emotion.

7. “Novocaine” 

This is probably the standout track from this album. Great music, very aggressive (sounds like “The Phoenix”). It’s also rumored to be inspired by the recent events in Ferguson. Not much else to say, listen for yourself. It’s a pretty good song.

8. “Fourth of July”

I can’t help but think this song is at least somewhat influenced by the event in Michigan in 2013 when some town synced “Light Em Up” with the July 4th fireworks and all the nimbyists got pissed. Maybe it slightly was, but the lyrics are clearly about a breakup, again, not necessarily a bad song, but nothing that standouts to me at least.

9. “Favorite Record”

Wait a minute…

Nice try Fall Out Boy, nothing gets by me. (Had to post this here for embedding purposes)

A post shared by Venmo – jandersen107 (@sgt.pepper19) on

Ah ha! Nothing gets by me. Not that sampling another song is a bad thing, especially when the outcome is as funky as this song. Although, the Daft Punk voices are very questionable. Not really sure these robot sounds have a place on a Fall Out Boy album, but I guess they did warn us that there was a lot of experimentation on here.

The reminiscent breakup songs really got old a few songs ago though. Maybe this is one of the better tracks on the album, but if you actually read my thought so far, that’s not exactly a huge compliment.

10. “Immortals”

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“Immortals” was from this movie. And for any who didn’t see it, this movie was spectacular. Since I was lied to a few months ago and told that this song was a standalone single and wouldn’t be on the album, I’m not exactly sure how to think of it. I do like the Asian sounds at the beginning and sprinkled throughout (or whatever those are). But one thing I don’t like is when the chorus is heavily reliant on repeating one word very loud, much like “Centuries”.

11. “Twin Skeleton’s (Hotel in NYC)”

All I can think is that this couple being referenced throughout the entire album has met their fate. Maybe they overdosed and are dead in a hotel? Or possibly killed themselves? I guess that would make this whole “Beauty/Psycho” concept come full circle. Key lines/phrases such as: “jet black crow”, “that shares our fate and deserves our pity”, and “I need a new partner in crime and your shotgun” really convey that idea. But all in all, while this may be a decent song, it certainly isn’t an album closer. You almost expect another song after it. As with much of the rest of the album, it leaves me disappointed. You don’t pull of the epic ending that was “Save Rock And Roll” and follow-up with this.

While I can appreciate an album that has a concept behind it (while not necessarily being a “concept album”), this album just doesn’t do it. Committed Fall Out Boy fans can probably listen to this and enjoy it, but as someone who typically listens to entire albums at a time, I can’t sit through this one.

Standout Tracks: Everything from “Novocaine” on.