Fall Out Boy really might just save rock and roll with this.
For "Save Rock and Roll" (Decaydance/Island), the band's first album since 2008's underappreciated "Folie a Deux," the rejuvenated Fall Out Boy comes out swinging and doesn't let up.
"Put on your war paint!" commands singer Patrick Stump in "The Phoenix," a stunning combination of sweeping synths and thunderous production that raises both the intensity and the beats per minute.
It's only one of several songs where the band confronts its concerns with fleeting time head-on, choosing to rage against the dying of the light. In "Rat a Tat," which includes charmingly wacky bits from Courtney Love, Stump sings, "We're all fighting growing old." For the title track, they team with Elton John for a stadium-ready manifesto where they pledge their allegiance to rock and roll and declare, "I will defend the faith, going down swinging -- I will save the song that we can't stop singing."
Fall Out Boy backs this quest with actions as well as words. The title track feels like a '70s-style Elton John piano ballad, modernized with a thumping drum track. For "Young Volcanoes," they turn a Train-like cheesiness into something poetic, while "Just One Yesterday," featuring Foxes, feels like a twist on Adele's "Rolling in the Deep."
Fall Out Boy, it turns out, is willing to pull any number of genres into their music in order to save rock and roll -- from the hip-hop of "The Mighty Fall" to the new wave of "Miss Missing You." And it all works -- building one of the year's best albums.
"Save Rock and Roll"
BOTTOM LINE An ambitious return and sleek leap forward