When was the last time you filled yourself with existential dread to the sounds of upbeat music? Well, if you’d like to go through it again, Fall Out Boy’s new album, “So Much (For) Stardust,” will give you the experience you desire. As you move through the album, lead singer Patrick Stump’s beautiful voice takes you through the trials and tribulations of life itself, and how gloomy it has become after the pandemic.
The album begins with the sounds of a dramatic piano sequence in the track “Love From The Other Side.” The piano and strings introduction builds to an aggressive guitar that leads into Stump’s powerful vocals as he sings about fighting through odds that are against you, whether it is a failed relationship or just life in general. However, the implication is that you can fight, but life is rigged. This is apparent in the lines, “We’re told we gotta get ahead, yeah, no matter what it takes / But there’s no way off the hamster wheel in this rat race.”
Up next is “Heartbreak Feels So Good.” As can be gleaned from the title, this song’s focus is celebrating life and heartbreak because it is inescapable. As Stump expresses this, he maintains a catchy beat that is perfect for dancing, which is exactly what he wants you to do. He repeatedly tells us not to stop dancing and that we can dance our tears away.
Following is “Hold Me Like a Grudge.” He focuses on the idea that the world is moving too fast and that he is trying to keep up despite reminiscing about a failed relationship. The interesting thing about this song is that it seems like he is aware that he himself is a problem, calling himself a “full-time problem.” An interesting aspect of the song is an intermittent garbled voice that states, “you put the ‘fun,’ into dysfunction.”
Then, there is “Heaven, Iowa” which I personally thought was the most beautiful song on the album. Harping about trying to love another person as you both try to figure out your lives, Stump’s vocals take on an extra level of power as he sings. He desperately cries out the phrase, “Scar crossed lovers / forever,” a repeated mantra that made my heart ache a little.
The album takes a break from songs about halfway through with the track “The Pink Seashell.” Featuring famous actor Ethan Hawke, this track was inspired by his part in the film “Reality Bites.” The lyrics to this track are from Hawke’s character who tells a story about his father giving him a pink seashell and telling him all of the answers he needs are inside. However, finding that the seashell is empty, it gives Hawke’s character an outlook on life that it is meaningless.
The song “What a Time To Be Alive” really deepens this theme as it specifically alludes to the COVID-19 pandemic. There are multiple parts of the song that incorporate aspects of the pandemic, but the most chilling were the lyrics, “Sometimes you wonder if we’re ever looking back / At a picture of 2019 / And saying, ‘That’s the way, the world, it used to be / Before our dreams started bursting at the seams.’” The pandemic upturned many lives and people are still recovering.
The final track, “So Much (For) Stardust,” starts off with string instrumentals as it leads into a reflection about how the future is unknown and, “we thought we had it all.” Stump perfectly ties in lyrics from the first track, making the perfect callback. He sings, “In another life you were my babe / In another life you were the sunshine of my lifetime / What would you trade the pain for? I’m not sure.”
As you move through the album, lead singer Patrick Stump’s beautiful voice takes you through the trials and tribulations of life itself, and how gloomy it has become after the pandemic.
This album is a story of lost connections between one another as well as the broken connection between the self with their world. While the message can dampen the mood, it can also alleviate some stress for those who struggle as they know they aren’t the only ones suffering. Overall, it was a beautiful collection of observations about our world today and what life can sometimes feel like.
Featured photo courtesy of @AppleMusic, Twitter