Fall Out Boy’s “From Under the Cork Tree” will always be my first idea of high school. (And I am definitely disillusioned. Where is the hierarchical high school and relationship system that Fall Out Boy romanticized for me?) However, disentangling themselves from their breakout punk rock roots, (emo rock for those teens of 2003) Fall Out Boy’s “American Beauty/American Psycho” sets the stage and mosh pit for an all-out experimental, layered madness that many can be energetically caught up in. Hardly dipping their toes in, the band suddenly plunges into genre traditions of soul and arena rock, sample old cliches as new and sweep listeners up as mad musical scientists.
Definitely not starting softly, the opening song is indeed true to its name — “Irresistible.” Trumpeting, ceremonial horns accompanied by steady, booming footsteps of drums forces the way for Patrick Stump to declare, loud and proud: “Coming here unannounced.” A fighting anthem for their new style, “Irresistible” hypes up the listener for the titular song’s ridiculous layers of instruments, with the hilarious crescendo of “Ooohs” going toward a momentary American surf-turned-rock song, and ends with a resounding “Dah!” from Stump. A contributing writer to the song and a French techno DJ, SebastiAn’s influence on the intense layering and odd throwbacks is mildly reminiscent of his early album, “Total” — a refreshing collaboration for Fall Out Boy.
Though the previous silliness runs and hides away from the eerie voice of Suzanne Vega singing “Tom’s Diner,” the momentum of “Century” is the dramatic homage to Queen’s easy sway of a stadium. The dynamic of the lone piano, the chorus of voices and the tempo kept by the drums and many claps all tightly intertwine into a bold statement from Fall Out Boy as they declare, “Some legends are told / Some turn to dust or to gold / but you will remember me.” And remember they shall. The various metaphors toward remembrance and Stump skillfully belting out like the everlasting Freddie Mercury will not leave the band forgotten.
Slowing down, “The Kids Aren’t Alright” still matches the previous three songs’ tendencies toward complex layering with a ghostly yet whimsical whistling, introducing a bit of a sad childhood. But all the previous songs’ complexities combined could not battle the fast-paced montage of “Uma Thurman.” Practically sprinting along the fast piano-pressing and sampled theme song of “The Munsters,” Stump’s lyrics strike an image of a Tarantino-esque montage, with all the strong women, violence, chaos and eccentricities. The shifts from a soulful “I can work a miracle, work a miracle,” the death horn from “The Munsters” and the rock guitar emphasized with “the blood, the blood, the blood of the lamb” all switch up to a sudden violent scene, and a hint toward Uma Thurman’s dance scene from “Pulp Fiction” all make it hard to keep up with the song. That’s because the song is meant to lead the listeners and lead the charge, like how Tarantino has the power to surprise audiences with blood and gore.
Disregarding “Immortals,” a contracted song for Disney’s “Big Hero Six,” the darker songs, like “Fourth of July” and “Twin Skeletons (Hotel in NYC),” end the album in a darker tone than the album’s beginning. From the synthesizer dream of “Fourth of July” boasting booming sounds to Pete Wentz and Stump’s simmered voices and the crooning “ooohs” haunting “Twin Skeletons (Hotel in NYC),” Fall Out Boy’s earlier bold statement in the anthem-ish songs interestingly ends in a twist — the listener will remember, but it may not be pleasant for all.
Fall Out Boy’s “American Beauty/American Psycho” is an experimental accomplishment mirroring its titles. It has beautiful moments and psycho moments, but all should be listened to. Except for “Immortals.” Save yourself the cliches.
Rating: 4 stars