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So Much (For) Stardust is Fall Out Boy finding their way home

"So Much (For) Stardust"

Release date: 24 March 2023
Fall Out Boy - So Much (For) Stardust cover
22 March 2023, 09:00 Written by Steven Loftin

Eight albums in – and two decades after their debut – Fall Out Boy are a far cry from those rosy-cheeked punks that questioned "Where is your boy tonight?"

Now, they're older. They've lived, they've thrived, and it may be no coincidence that this release aligns with their return to punk/emo staple label Fueled By Ramen. They're no longer a band who need to be ambitious – they've achieved dizzying heights, regularly play stadiums, they've even got a big fuck-off flamethrower bass. This is why it’s not so surprising that So Much (For) Stardust instead feels like a return to home.

Patrick Stump, Pete Wentz, Joe Trohman (who has since stepped back from the band focusing on his mental health), and Andy Hurley’s morphing from scrappy under-dog punks to titans worthy of a headlining bill sandwiched between Green Day and Weezer (two bands who invariably have influenced the quartet) is a remarkable rags-to-riches story. From 2003's Take This To Your Grave’s fast-paced punk, to 2005's From Under The Cork Tree’s eternal emo handbook and beyond into their mainstream-pop targeting second decade, Fall Out Boy have never done things by halves. So Much (For) Stardust is no different.

Instantly, everything is BIG. Grandiosity remains Fall Out Boy’s preferred delivery, and with a renewed six-string focus wrapping nicely around maturer themes and genres, it holds up well. “Love From The Other Side” blows away any cobwebs with its powerful, teeth-bearing promise of a return to their heavier side. The influences throughout range from studious, orchestra-chased rock (“I Am My Own Muse”) to light-as-a-feather pop-punk (“Fake Out”), and even disco funk, with the hip-swinging-bassline toting “Hold Me Like A Grudge” ear-marking the band’s refusal to properly bend backwards. Instead, by still leaning forward, Fall Out Boy remain those starry-eyed boys who have never succumbed to fan-servicing and instead follow their own higher ambitions. And this time, it works out more than well.

Often, it winds up feeling more like a glorious road back to the days of 2007's Infinity on High and 2008's Folie à Deux’s grand ideas and even grander execution. Skipping the tolls of MANIA, Save Rock ’N’ Roll and American Beauty/American Psycho which grossly bloated the pop ambitions, properly shifting the tectonic plates of Fall Out Boy fandom between OG punk lovers and the newer generation. Though there are still moments that sit atop this pop pedestal. The epic “Heaven, Iowa” throws everything including the kitchen sink, a gospel choir, and a searing hair-metal solo into the mix.

Sometimes things breach into the saccharine. “So Good Right Now” leans a little too heavily into its crowning sentiment, erring toward soundtracking the montage sequence of a charity TV show. “What A Time To Be Alive” is directed in its posi-rock, with touches upon more soulful disco-funk flourishes, undoubtedly a Stump influence whose own 2011 solo album Soul Punk relished in his love of the genre. It’s a straightforward bop that crescendos into its titular PMA call-to-arms.

So Much (For) Stardust’s main takeaway is the palpable, radiating carefree joy. While there's no doubt Fall Out Boy have probably believed in their last 15 years’ worth of output, this is the first time that actually feels like they're reaching into something truer to themselves. May that stardust keep falling on Chicago’s pop-punk sons like the Northeastern snow they emerged from two decades ago.

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