Two years ago, Fall Out Boy promised with the title of its fifth studio disc to "Save Rock and Roll." The pop-punk band, which reunited in 2013 following an extended break, came pretty close to doing it too, topping Billboard's album chart and spawning a rare guitar-driven radio hit with "My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light Em Up)."
But don't mistake Fall Out Boy for a bunch of hidebound preservationists. On its victory lap of a new record, the group pumps up its breakneck jock jams with all kinds of fresh energy.
The result, at least for the first half, is almost comically exciting, one fist-pump adrenaline rush after another. In opener "Irresistible," frontman Patrick Stump describes being attracted to a woman he knows is trouble while trumpets blast out an arena-ready fanfare; "American Beauty/American Psycho" reverses that scenario over throbbing disco bass.
A Top 40 single with tens of millions of plays on YouTube, "Centuries" pairs a hypnotic sample from Suzanne Vega's "Tom's Diner" with the clattering snare drums of the hip hop style known as trap. "Uma Thurman" even repurposes a bit of the theme song from TV's "The Munsters" as Stump sings in lurid detail about "the stench of summer sex." That's an appealingly perverse way to maintain rock's pulse.
Alas, Stump and his bandmates run out of steam by the end of "American Beauty/American Psycho," which closes with a handful of more generic tracks — including "Immortals," which was featured recently in Disney's "Big Hero 6" — that sound as if they could've come from Bastille or Imagine Dragons or some other synthed-up guitar act just looking to stay relevant in a digital age. At its best, Fall Out Boy thinks bigger than that.
Fall Out Boy
"American Beauty/American Psycho"
Two and a half stars