Fall Out Boy, ‘Centuries’ and the art of selling out
Thom Behrens | 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.
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.