The kings of catchy pop/rock rhythms are back, with an album that may very well be their best yet musically, as well as their least offensive one lyrically.
Fall Out Boy’s legacy has been a bit spotted. Not musically, but thematically. Few bands have so masterfully attained a niche of amazing catchy tunes with talented instrumentation, but many of their popular songs also rely on profanity and sexual connotations. They haven’t always been that way, sometimes implementing clever social commentary, but it has been a fairly frequent trope of theirs, and their last album, Save Rock and Roll, was even more profane than previous records.
American Beauty/American Psycho, however, is a step in the right direction. It’s every bit as strong as any previous Fall Out Boy record musically, with the high-octane energy of songs like “Irresistible,” “Novacaine,” and “Immortals” balancing out the psychedelic charm of tracks such as “The Kids Aren’t Alright” and “Twin Skeleton’s (Hotel In NYC).” There’s hardly a filler track on the entire record, the closest thing being “Jet Pack Blues,” with its slow beginning, but even so it’s still a four star song.
But like all Fall Out Boy albums, that praise must come with an asterisk. Will there’s hardly any profanity on the record (one mild profanity on the entire album), the sexual references are still there. Frontman Patrick Stump sings of “pity sex,” “summer sex,” and “between the sheets.” Thankfully they’re less in number than previous albums have contained, but they are still present.
Aside from the sexual content, there aren’t a whole lot of thematic issues. Like most alternative rock albums, the good and bad of relationships is a dominant theme. That’s not a bad thing in most places, save for “American Beauty/American Psycho,” which is the epitome of selfish people entering a relationship to use each other. “Uma Thurman” should also be avoided, as its nothing more than a sex song. There are positive things as well, however. “Jet Pack Blues” asks serious questions to a man leaving a relationship, and “The Kids Aren’t Alright,” while containing a sexual reference, is potentially good social commentary.
Taking a look at the album as a cohesive work rather than a collection of separate pieces, it’s pretty impressive. There are things that I wish weren’t there, just as there are things in great movies that I wish weren’t there. But given the fact that the objectionable content is relatively limited, and the songs are phenomenal, I have to say that it’s an album worth your money and more. This is an album that you’ll be likely to listen to more than just a few times–it’s the kind of record that ends up on the rotation at least once or twice a month, and contributes heavily to all of your favorite playlists.
The Heads Up
“American Beauty/American Psycho” has a fairly heavy sexual theme and promotes general selfishness.
“Uma Thurman” has a heavy sexual theme and one profanity.
“The Kids Aren’t Alright” contains a sexual reference.