Joshua McGreal and Theodore Stone review the latest releases from pop-rockers Fall Out Boy and prog legends King Crimson
Fall Out Boy
American Beauty/American Psycho
16 January 2015
“We’re the last rock band that doesn’t think that pop is a four-letter word.” Patrick Stump’s words whilst promoting Fall Out Boy’s latest album American Beauty/American Psycho seem to have codified the mission statement of the Illinois quartet. This mission statement is simple: to keep in touch with the mainstream.
It’s been an entire decade since Fall Out Boy were the polar opposite of the band they are today. In 2005 they defined the mainstream with songs like ‘Dance, Dance’ and ‘Sugar We’re Going Down.’ The band led the emo pop-punk revolution of the early 2000s. But with the three year hiatus and a triumphant return to the charts with 2013’s Save Rock and Roll, questions were asked about which direction this new album would take.
Fall Out Boy have now truly committed to the mainstream. Long gone are the angsty ballads readymade for teenage bedrooms. New songs like ‘Uma Thurman’, ‘Irresistible’ and ‘Centuries’ mark a trend towards clubfriendly dance songs, which, whilst played by a ‘rock’ quartet, would not sound out of place remixed and pumped out of Arena’s speakers.
Indeed, this new record looks set to dominate radio airwaves for the next year, which is not altogether terrible, as these songs are certainly catchy and easy listening. But they lack any of the originality and lyrical complexity Fall Out Boy fans are used to.
As they alienate their old fan base in a bid for airtime, it seems that American Beauty/American Psycho is the band’s most important album to date, a gambit on which the fate of their musical identity is at stake.
Live at the Orpheum
13 January 2015
After an absence of seven years, King Crimson has finally returned to the stage, bringing with them a new live album.
Once again led by Robert Fripp on guitar and mellotron, the new line-up also features Jakko Jaksyzk on vocals and rhythm guitar, bass guitarist and chapman stick aficionado Tony Levin, Mel Collins on saxophone, and not one, but three drummers: Gavin Harrison, Bill Rieflin and Pat Mastelotto.
The album chiefly consists of some of King Crimson’s most popular material from various incarnations, including ‘One More Red Nightmare’ and ‘The ConstruKtion of Light’, the former of which allows Collins to show off his highly impressive improvisational ability, while the latter exhibits Tony Levin’s virtuosity, also allowing him to exhibit great interplay between himself and Fripp. The closing track ‘Starless’ from 1974’s Red acts as the standout moment on the album, with some truly enchanting guitar and vocal work.
However, this album only properly gets going halfway through the fifth track, ‘The Letters.’ Until then, the band simply feel too composed, too rigid, a feat that previous line-ups have always avoided. Indeed, for the most part of the album, the participants in the three-drum lineup were often too similar or too formulaic for a band as musically unpredictable as this. This is most evident on the only new composition, ‘Banshee Legs Bell Hassle,’ which was actually rather disappointing.
Nevertheless, the album still upholds a clear change from what dominates today’s charts. After a decent album, here’s hoping they’re here to stay this time.
Theodore Stonebookmark me