*** (out of four)
Patrick Stump is bursting at the seams. On “Soul Punk,” the former Fall Out Boy front man’s full-length solo debut, the Glenview native explodes with extravagant displays of synth, sax and dance grooves, revealing a funky side that was hidden away during the years he spent composing hooks for his band’s pop-punk tunes (and previewed on his “Truant Wave” EP earlier this year). The new record’s intricate, tight melodies, where Stump has always excelled, overwhelm most complaints about the album--mainly that he needs to dial it back. Clocking in at over eight minutes, “Run Dry (X Heart X Fingers)” is easily the best track on the album, even with its slightly cliché premise of how Stump got the worst hangover ever and his follow-up promise to “quit [drinking] forever, cross my fingers, cross my heart.” The lyrics may be stuck in junior year of college—this is his first crack at writing lyrics, after all—but the track is easily post-grad: eight minutes of pure dance and funk, including a mid-song breakdown with plenty of synth, heavy bass and Michael Jackson-esque sing-hiccupping. Comparisons to Jackson show up again in more aggressive R&B tracks like “Greed,” but pop undercurrents in songs like “Spotlight (New Regrets),” “This City” and “Allie” bring just enough of the old Stump to life to ease life-long fans into this radically different, and much improved, stage of the pop singer’s career.
Nov. 11 at Metro