Following the aftermath of Queen Bey(once)’s legendary Superbowl performance comes even more riveting music news: Fall Out Boy has ended the incredibly oppressive hiatus that has deprived so many lives for the past four years. Okay, I’ll admit that I have yet to cross paths with a human being outside of the Internet who is excited about their return. In fact I’ve only been met with exclamations of, “They suck!” or a shocking lack of awareness about the band’s existence.
However, the always-reliable resource of Tumblr tells a different story. Innumerable gifs of people flailing their arms in excitement accompany posts like, “I’m gonna cry so hard if I don’t get tickets Friday to see Fall Out Boy … gahhhhhh.” Someone even made a shirt with text that reads, “I Survived the Fall Out Boy Hiatus.” Intense, right? Given this extensive research, obviously there are diehard fans out there. (Disclaimer: I’m not one of them.)
This outpouring of emotion is surprising because the band garnered acclaim from a seemingly different era of a whole eight years ago. Let me explain a piece of this period: Angular bangs and thick guy-liner was the fashion of the alt-rock scene. Hoodies were the height of angst. Myspace was the ultimate social platform. Have I lost you already? Yes?
Too bad. For a whole three years, Fall Out Boy dominated these trends. Their success was due in large part to their long euphemistic song titles (e.g. the 16-word beast, “I’m Like a Lawyer with the Way I’m Always Trying to Get You Off (Me & You)”), exposure on such highly rated cable TV shows as “One Tree Hill” and, of course, vocalist Patrick Stump’s mutton chops. Bassist and pretty boy Pete Wentz even formed Decaydance Records where he signed knock-off bands such as Panic! at the Disco. The boys revelled in gimmicks, and all the scenesters in middle school loved them for it. However, alt-rock steadily diverged from the pop-punk-turned-emo realm. Since the boys’ last album release in 2008, we’ve gotten to a point where the weird, lispy synthpop of Grimes — among a variety of other sounds — reigns on the indie pedestal. And according to Paste Magazine, the boys’ beloved scenester fanbase morphed into hipsters long ago. Hopefully, they will be able to salvage their careers with their former fans’ current taste for irony.
A certain columnist would think the boys’ music would be displaced in such an altered alt-mosphere. But as Wentz’s marketing methods of branding (the dude has a clothing line called Clandestine Industries) have been compared to that of the rap industry by Rolling Stone, it also seems that their sound has ended up in that direction with yet another ridiculously titled track, “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light Em Up).” Listen closely, and the song will sound like a caricature of a hip-hop anthem. Fall Out Boy probably won’t pimp themselves into the rap genre. But, “Light Em Up,” is indicative of an attempted departure from their initially self-induced scenester-hood into even more mainstream appeal.
Which raises the question: Is reinvention necessary for survival in an ever-changing industry? Sure, if the previously acknowledged columnist analyzes the image of alleged serial-reinventor Madonna from her ‘80s penchant for lace to her millennial disco throwback, she thinks, “Wow, what a colorful parade of outfits!” But has the material girl ever staggered far from her stake in the pop genre? Nah. And legends like Bob Dylan have maintained a fairly consistent image and sound throughout the years.
So Fall Out Boy should stick to their guns, which they’re so used to cocking and pulling anyway. Maybe the band won’t induce any more terrible haircuts in their fanbase. But staying emo makes a lot more sense than going electropop or whatever “Soul Punk” is.
Contact Caitlin at [email protected].