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Fall Out Boy, ‘Centuries’ and the art of selling out

| Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Where were you when Fall Out Boy came off hiatus?

I was in my ever-boring and seldom-attended freshman engineering lecture, staring at my news feed, and within five minutes of refreshing the home page and seeing the update that Pete Wentz, Patrick Stump, Andy Hurley and Joe Trohman had not only reunited, but were releasing an album titled “Save Rock and Roll,” Island Records was already processing my pre-order information.

While discussing music with my 14-year-old cousin over the summer, the topic turned to Fall Out Boy (this is what discussing music with me will inevitably end in), and he mentioned his favorite Fall Out Boy songs — all tracks from their most recent album. I told him that Fall Out Boy has always been one of my favorite bands and that he should check out some of their other stuff, too.

He responded, “Oh, so they’re a pretty old band, then?”

“No!” was my defensive, gut instinct, but upon looking into my heart I knew it to be true. Fall Out Boy released their first studio album, “Take This To Your Grave,” in 2003 — when my cousin was only three years old. If you were born in 1993, my cousin is to Fall Out Boy as you are to Slightly Stoopid.

Slighty Stoopid.

And, as we all know, Fall Out Boy as changed a lot over their eleven year career (please see their 2002 demo “Fall Out Boy’s Evening Out With Your Girlfriend”). They’ve gone from a, angry, sardonic, Chicago pop-punk band to an anthemic, peppy pop group that records with a drum machine. Fall Out Boy has been accused of selling-out for every album since their first; they wrote and recorded “Save Rock and Roll” behind closed doors, before even publicly announcing their reunion for this very reason. Fall Out Boy’s constantly adapting and changing style both loses them old fans and gains them many new ones, and on Monday, Sept. 8, they challenged their listeners once again.

The single “Centuries” was released at 3 p.m. EST after several cryptic announcements from the band. The initial announcement was simply an eight-second morse-code sound clip that spelled the word “centuries,” and official release time was stated by the band to be only “9.8.14, afternoon est.” The release of the song was shortly followed by an announcement that the group is working on their sixth studio album.

“Centuries” starts with a sample of “Tom’s Diner” by Susanne Vega, which you might recognize from Drake and Kevin Cossom’s “I Get Paper.” The song falls into Stump’s high range, throaty wailings: he sings about how “heavy metal broke my heart/I never meant for you to fix yourself” — a reflection on their changing songwriting style, perhaps?

The bridge, too, points to the song’s purpose as a self-reflection on the band’s history and future, with lines like “We’ve been here forever/ And here’s the frozen proof/ I could scream forever/ We are the poisoned youth.”

The song is almost an album announcement in and of itself. The chorus consists of multiple voices singing the sample, followed by Stump promising that we will indeed remember them for centuries backed by descending piano power scales, creating the epic and anthemic sound Fall Out Boy has mastered. Whether it’s the sardonic rhythm guitar on the verses or Wentz’s fuzzy, rolling bass in the chorus, every aspect of the song yells at you to start bobbing your head. You don’t get sick of this song after the first listen, or second, or third.

What does this new single say about the group’s next album? I think we can expect to see more of the expertly produced tracks we saw on “Save Rock And Roll,” with much of the same pop sound. But “Centuries,” especially on the vocals, has given us back the promise of a punky, angsty attitude in upcoming songs. Fall Out Boy has been putting songs out and onto the radio for eleven years now, and I’m sure they’ll be able to do it again. No matter what it sounds like, it’s sure to sound good.

About Thom Behrens

Thom is working to get a degree in Computer Engineering and, if he can pull it off, will graduate in 2016. In his free time, Thom likes to rip on Pitchfork, read books and hang out with Jay Michuda. Thom enjoys the chipotle alfredo sauce from the dining hall and is proud to represent the Dirty South Bend on campus.

Contact Thom
  • Ridley Knoire

    Thank you for that! Ever since they came back from their break all I have heard from people is “oh look they sold out”, when that’s clearly not the case, they have been around for 11 years, obviously their sound will change over time as the world changes and they grow up, that’s not selling out. I have always been and always will be a FOB fan, looking forward to their next album.

    • Sanguine Deum

      People say that about a lot of bands mostly FOB and Linkin Park

  • maria@bnzon

    WOW your a (not)great observer!,…art of selling out XD,….this is why media(such as blog like this) kill music,..i wonder why new music now is so chipy chipy,…..becuz the real music is being compass inside the little genre box,..(or in the mind of past)….if you consider this band as what genre you like,…sorry,..they won’t stay still inside that box forever,….they will still gonna make good music,..and inspire the new generation,…be great musician,..or anyone they wanna be,..most of all be brave,…

  • Zak Dwyer

    SR&R was boring. I liked Soul Punk. I hope Patrick revisits his solo work.

    New FOB feels contrived and in-genuine. Too many drum kits, it sounds like hip hop songs without rap verses. It’s not even that catchy – which is weird, because Stump knows how to write a good hook regardless of the genre. Just… now, they’re boring. I won’t remember this band for their recent albums – they’re super polished, heavily produced, and sound lifeless. They have little to no “edge”, grit, sarcasm, tongue-in-cheek lyrics, no more cynical side to it – it’s all happy. They take themselves far too seriously now.

  • Zak Dwyer

    I’m still not a fan of their music with the new sound. I could enjoy everything from Evening Out all the way to Folie a Deux and even P Stump’s solo album, which was essentially pop. But this cheesy, “anthemic” sound they have going on is a complete 180 from what they were doing pre-hiatus. No more snark, cynicism, power chords, or the slightest bit of edge. It sounds as if Pete Wentz’s solo project “Black Cards” was more of an influence than Patrick Stump’s solo project was. Which is a bad thing.