American Beauty/American Psycho (AB/AP) is easily #2 on the list of underrated Fall Out Boy albums, right after Folie a Deux. However, there are vastly different reasons for why both are on said list: Folie a Deux, because even fans often forget about it, and AB/AP…well, I’ll explain that in a second.
AB/AP is Fall Out Boy’s sixth studio album, released January 15, 2015 under Island Records. Musically, this album took a more pop/alternative approach, deviating from their pop punk roots. Despite most responses, I feel that this actually worked for the band, especially vocalist Patrick Stump. Stump has this big, soulful voice, and I feel that the experimentation on AB/AP really allowed him to truly work his vocal abilities.
Back to why is AB/AP second-most underrated: it’s because of all the negative reviews and fan feedback on this album. And that was exactly why I chose to cover AB/AP: I felt a need to one of few good reviews on the album, as well as provide context and/or background.
Quick rant: Honestly, I’m tired of people hating on AB/AP just because “it doesn’t sound like the old Fall Out Boy.” That people instantly hate on an album by a band they like just because the band dared to grow up and evolve their sound is just pure bullshit. AB/AP is a great, well-made and pretty mature-sounding album. I hate that people won’t grow the f*** up and realize that bands are going to change their sound. They can’t stay the same over the years; and if they did, the same people who complain about Fall Out Boy “selling out” would say what’s oft said about Blink-182: that “they’re playing the same music they played as teens, they need to sing about grown-up stuff.”
And with that piece said, on to the track by track!
Fall Out Boy first released this track as a promotional single, and made a kind of cheesy yet totally FOB music video to go along with it. What’s fun about this song is it blends elements of different genres and musical styles–you got pop punk, some hip hop, and horns, plus Stump’s wonderfully soulful voice. “Irresistible” has a “familiar blend of soulful vocals, danceable rhythms and sensual lyrics” that all comes together to make such an awesome song (MusicFeeds).
Then, FOB re-released “Irresistible” in October 2015, this time featuring Demi Lovato. The best part? The band made a second video, done in the style of *NSYNC’s “It’s Gonna Be Me” music video–and even featured former *NSYNC members Chris Kirkpatrick and Joey Fatone! This song is such a favorite of mine.
2. American Beauty/American Psycho
Ah, the title track. A play-on-words based on two hit movies, and a truly great song. Despite being the title track, I feel that this song is one of the more underrated songs off AB/AP. It’s so fast-paced, energetic, and a good running song, if you’re into that. My favorite description of the title song comes from Pop Matters: that it’s “one of the few tracks on this outing that feels like a relic from the band’s beginnings.” What I love is the lyrics: they seem to almost tell a story, but if you actually look at them, they’re kind of confusing. It’s weirdly cool to me.
Yeaah everyone knows this song. “Centuries,” along with “Uma Thurman,” played all over the pop stations (why, I don’t know)–which began the bulk of fans complaining about how “Fall Out Boy has sold out/gone mainstream/is so pop now.” But somehow this song is still a fan favorite, a “classically grandiose stadium sing-along in the Fall Out Boy tradition” (Pop Matters). Additionally, “Centuries” samples two songs: Mötley Crüe’s “Too Fast for Love,” and the “do do do” from Suzanne Vega’s “Tom’s Diner.”
4. The Kids Aren’t Alright
Like the title track, “The Kids Aren’t Alright” is extremely underrated; it’s a personal favorite off this album. The song’s title alludes to The Who’s “The Kids Are Alright.” The most enticing aspect of this song is the “decidedly dark lyrical matter delivered via a joyous vocal melody” (MusicFeeds). As for what exactly this song is about…I honestly couldn’t tell you.
5. Uma Thurman
As I said earlier, this song is mostly known thanks to pop radio. But what you may not know (well, if you haven’t seen Pulp Fiction, at least) is that this song references a particular scene from the cult classic Pulp Fiction–which I’ve chosen to include below. (If you want to see the music video, click here to see). “Uma Thurman” also samples “The Munsters” theme song, oddly enough–and it somehow works in a way that only Fall Out Boy could pull off!
6. Jet Pack Blues
This is a heartbreak song that really should be more memorable than it really is. But unfortunately, “Jet Pack Blues” is easily the most forgettable track on AB/AP. The lyrics are cool, though: they contain potential Judy Garland and “Pacific Rim“ references, and propose a question (“Did you ever love her/Do you know?”) that is answered later on in “Fourth of July.”
I love how fast and furious this song is. The title always makes me think of Panic! At the Disco‘s “Nicotine” even though they sound totally different. “Novocaine” is a standout song on this album, aggressive in its attack both lyrically and musically, especially with the guitars. According to AV Club, this song is “a furious song said to be inspired by the events in Ferguson,” which I didn’t know until now.
8. Fourth of July
I used to love this song, but I lessened my love for it by accidentally over-listening to it…which is why I now save it for the 4th of July! The song is “a thudding eulogy to a prematurely broken relationship,” with intense and beautiful lyrics sung over lighter music (The Guardian). “Fourth of July” also answers the question raised in the chorus of “Jet Pack Blues” (“I wish I’d known how much you loved me/I wish I cared enough to know“).
“Favorite Record” is hands down one of my favorites off the album, and by Fall Out Boy in general. I love songs that contain lyrics that are about music or use music references, which is a big reason why I’m partial to this song. The song references several 80s and 90s bands, such as Rancid and Danzig. The lyrics reminisce about a former whirlwind relationship, full of dancing and oblivion to the real world.
Fall Out Boy initially wrote this song for Disney Pixar’s Big Hero 6, and decided to include it on this album. Since the show takes place in a Amer-Asian fusion sort of world, the band incorporated some Asian flutes into the song, which I feel is a fitting touch that enhances the song. It’s also a cool song in general that adds an interesting twist to the album.
11. Twin Skeletons (Hotel in NYC)
I completely forgot about this song until I started this post. I don’t really have any lost love for this song, which seems like a common feeling among FOB fans towards this track. Anyway, the song title is supposedly a reference to the cover art for Fall Out Boy’s greatest hits album Believers Never Die. The lyrics are morbid and dooming, talking about promises that are made “if you just hold on” and seemingly predicting the end of a doomed relationship.
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