Fall Out Boy are kidding – right? Four years after their de facto breakup, just when we’d finally forgotten all the embarrassing LiveJournal entries they inspired the first time around, they ride back into town, promising to save rock itself. Then again, these guys were never big on understatement. If their comeback suggests delusions of grandeur, they’re only picking up where they left off.
This is excellent news for Fall Out Boy fans, who will find that time has done little to tame their heroes’ over-the-top ambitions. Their fifth LP opens with the rock-operatic rallying cry “The Phoenix” – “Put on your war paint!” howls Patrick Stump over a hair-metal stomp – and gets loonier from there. Every riff is processed for maximum bombast. There are sleazy disco grooves and a fat dubstep breakdown; there’s a semicoherent rant by Courtney Love, a random Big Sean rap verse and a song that manages to bite both Willie Nelson and Adele.
Does rock’s future depend on this overheated nonsense? Of course not. But life is more fun with Fall Out Boy than without them. “Oh, no, we won’t go,” Stump proclaims on the defiantly messianic title track, backed by special guest Elton John and a multitracked army. “‘Cause we don’t know when to quit.” Thank goodness for that.