I’m sitting at my desk right now listening to “What A Catch, Donnie” by Fall Out Boy. Depressing. That’s how I feel about their “Young and Menace” release. I needed to take a step back and remind myself of why I love FOB enough to call them my fourth favorite band of all time. Why am I doing this? It’s simple:
“Young and Menace” is by far the worst track FOB have released to date.
FOB are taking a giant step away from their normal punk-rock/pop-punk sound with this track. I want to believe that this song wasn’t written strictly for radio play, but I’m having a hard time convincing myself that that’s true.
I never understood people who got angry when bands changed their sounds. I stood by Coldplay when they ditched the piano, I left the Black Parade and joined the Killjoys when My Chemical Romance entered into Danger Days, and I got an appreciation for Americana when The Killers released Battle Born. I understand that musicians change their sounds and aesthetics all the time. It’s part of the growing process. If we as humans change, so should our music.
However, I can’t grip onto this new FOB song. From the awkward Britney Spears reference in the lyrics (“Oops, I did it again”), to the absolute lack of a full band, the only way you can tell it’s an FOB song is by hearing Patrick Stump’s vocals. Without any background knowledge, a casual listener on the radio might think Patrick was just featuring on someone else’s song. Maybe that’s not too far of a stretch.
When have we ever listened to an FOB song and thought, “Man, listen to that beat drop!” Or perhaps, “I love this computerized sound!” Truth be told, it sounds like someone had a little too much fun with vocal filters and effects in the studio. Less is more, guys. How do you expect to perform this live? Are you just going to hit the play button and let those annoying squealing vocalizations do their thing?
What’s the point of having a band fit with two guitars, a bass and a drum set if you’re not going to utilize them? After all, this is a group who came out of hiatus to Save Rock And Roll. Was that just for a few years, then? Is rock and roll safe, tucked away in bed while you’re out there writing pop songs for the masses?
I’m not being fair. This review is coming from a place of anger. For the past week, we’ve been teased with pictures and video clips and strange tweets, making me very hyped for whatever today had in store. At 12:03 p.m., I eagerly clicked on a link for the music video and closed my eyes in excitement as it started to play. I kept them closed in disappointment as I heard it. I waited and waited for the song to redeem itself, but it never did.
The difference between how I felt about the bands mentioned earlier and FOB’s new direction is that the others’ changes made sense. Those bands rocked their new sound. They owned it. It felt real and genuine. FOB fell short.
On its own, “Young and Menace” is not entirely terrible, but it’s not something I’ll find myself listening to very frequently. In fact, I’ll probably end up storing it in a dark closet somewhere in the back of my mind, alongside Patrick’s own solo album, Soul Punk.
I’ll give it another chance eventually. Maybe it’ll grow on me. Until then –
Featured image courtesy of a screengrab from the ‘Young and Menace’ music video.