To think of Fall Out Boy as the elder statesmen of an entire genre might seem particularly strange to those who’ve followed their twenty year career so far, but their far-reaching influence on the rock scene they’ve helmed since the early ‘00s is unquestionable. Across seven albums, the quartet continued to rally against stereotypes, in search of a continually fresh and creative approach to their brand of pop-imbued punk. Whether enlisting Elton John to appear on 2013’s ‘Save Rock and Roll’, or Wyclef Jean and Lil Peep on tracks from ‘Believers Never Die (Part Two)’, they’ve always been a band with a plot twist up their sleeve. So, in 2023, with their latest full-length - and first in five years - there’s something intensely satisfying about the self-belief they seem to have struck on here.
Sounding closer to a continuation of their 2008 record ‘Folie à Deux’ than 2018’s hyper-slick ‘M A N I A’, there’s a return to the bold, luscious pop-rock that they honed early on. From the emotive strings that make way for powerful guitars on opener ‘Love From The Other Side’, to the soaring stadium-sized chorus of ‘Heaven, Iowa’; the James Bond-ish drama at the close of ‘I Am My Own Muse’ or the way that Earth, Wind & Fire’s insatiable funky stomp is all over ‘What A Time To Be Alive’, this sounds like a band content and confident to really be themselves. Even Pete Wentz’s spoken word monologue on the albeit strangely-titled ‘Baby Annihilation’ feels to mirror the fraught outro of ‘Get Busy Living or Get Busy Dying’; this time, it comes with a more world-weary narrator, but it’s both a poignant statement and an apt nod to their past. An album that exudes charm and euphoria, while still very much being Fall Out Boy’s DNA, ‘So Much (For) Stardust’ is a real joy.