Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Quick Review: American Beauty/American Psycho

[What is this? This is an idea I just had: instead of taking the time to review every single track on an album I really wanted to review, I could do a "quick" review of a moderate-interest album. That means I won't review every track, but I'll go into a little bit more detail. Think of it as an extended conclusion section from one of my other reviews. I'll still do full track-by-track reviews for certain albums, but maybe this'll give me a bit more motivation do put more stuff on this blog. Without further ado, here's my review.]

The follow-up to their previous album, Save Rock and Roll (which I reviewed here), Fall Out Boy's sixth studio album, American Beauty/American Psycho, was released on January 20, 2015. I stated in my Save Rock and Roll review that, despite its title, the album was pretty poppy and heavily produced. With American Beauty/American Psycho, Fall Out Boy wished to create a more stylistically cohesive album, and the style chosen is, frankly, not really my style. The album is still more pop than it is rock, and the production is once again heavy. You've probably heard the lead single from the album, "Centuries", and if you have, you know that the song has an arena-rock style chorus with hip-hop influenced verses and beats. The hip-hop influence is felt in other songs as well, like "Irresistible" and "Jet Pack Blues", and many songs feature easily crowd-singable choruses, like "The Kids Aren't Alright" and "American Beauty/American Psycho". These choruses distinctly remind me of newer Maroon 5 songs, namely "Maps" and "Animals". I will state that I am not really a fan of this style; I subscribe to the Dave Grohl school of rock, where it's the human element of a song that makes a song great, not its production.

That being said, for what it is, American Beauty/American Psycho is not totally terrible. In fact, I found myself somewhat enjoying many of the songs on the album, and really liking a select few. One of my biggest problems with the album is the fact that it's so overly produced. Sometimes it's hard to even pay attention to the lyrics because of the overly-produced instrumentation. For example, I was reading the Wikipedia article for the lead track, "Irresistible", and read that it was about "deadly love", but I had barely been paying attention to the lyrics. Also, some of the choruses are so pop-infused that they don't sound genuine; this happens most notably on "American Beauty/American Psycho" and especially on "Fourth of July". However, I do enjoy "Centuries", and I really like "The Kids Aren't Alright" as well - it reminds me a lot of "Save Rock and Roll" (the song) from the previous album. And the album actually ends on a pretty good note with "Immortals" and the possibly-grammatically-incorrectly-named "Twin Skeleton's (Hotel in NYC)".

The Verdict: American Beauty/American Psycho is not necessarily a bad album for what it is, but I don't really like what it is. Its ultimate downfall for me is that it's too overly-produced, and the songs (especially chorus melodies) sound too much like they're written for pop radio. Select songs will make it into my playlist, but all in all this album won't get a whole lot of playtime from me in the future.
Best Songs: "Centuries", "The Kids Aren't Alright", "Immortals"
Listen If You Like: Save Rock and Roll (Fall Out Boy), V (Maroon 5), modern pop-punk with emphasis on the 'pop'

Final Score: 7/10