Four stars for “So Much (For) Stardust”: Fall Out Boy album review



Laken Kincaid writes about the latest album from Fall Out Boy.

Laken Kincaid, Managing Editor

On Jan. 1, 2023, pop punk giant Fall Out Boy announced that they would be releasing a new album in the coming months following one of the longest hiatuses in the band’s history. Amidst other large moments in the alternative scene like the collapse of sibling group Panic! at the Disco and a surprising resurgence of Melanie Martinez with her new “Portals” collection, “So Much (For) Stardust” hit major streaming platforms in late March.

Personally, I have listened to Fall Out Boy for approximately a decade. From the back of my middle school bus to the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, N.C. for their “Mania Tour,” this group has had my heart in a chokehold through most of my adolescent years; it still holds the title of being my favorite band of all time. Naturally, I was pumped for this new release and treated its drop day like Christmas.

Before jumping into the review of the music, I believe it is only proper that I issue a disclaimer as to what my taste looks like when it comes to Fall Out Boy’s past discography. I would consider myself a middle aged fan in the way that my favorite album is not their oldest work, “Take This to Your Grave,” but I would also say their most revered work is not in their recent “American Beauty/American Psycho” or “MANIA.” From my perspective, the band hit a renaissance with three killer albums back to back with “Infinity On High,” “Folie à Deux” and, my number one collection of all time, “Save Rock And Roll.” In short, I enjoy the traditional sound Fall Out Boy has in the emo sphere but also truly adore the experimental turns the ditties from these years take with various featured artists and the variety between tone and pacing between each individual track.

One thing I also appreciate with Fall Out Boy’s work is their ability to tell an overarching story through an album. The best example of this is the “Save Rock And Roll” music video collection which showcases a narrative that would otherwise be lost without visual aid. Other fantastic instances of this include Melanie Martinez’s “Training Wheels” album and the highly revered “American Idiot” release by Green Day. While I do still think that many of the lyrics from the band’s past work did come from throwing darts at a board and picking words at random, I do not think this takes away from the beauty behind the project.

“So Much (For) Stardust” continues this trend, arguably becoming one of the most “cinematic” albums Fall Out Boy has produced. Yes, that term feels out of place in an audio format, but bear with me.

Many of the tracks feel as if they could be a score in an iconic action movie (I want to make a comparison to John Williams in “Jurassic Park” but I worry the film buffs of The Carroll News will tear me apart). “Love From The Other Side,” the first song that was released off of the album earlier in the year, showcases this perfectly with its string heavy build that eventually fades into the classic punk sound we are familiar with. Other tracks like “Heartbreak Feels So Good” also use this format; it is so fresh yet homey at the same time. 

In another aspect, Fall Out Boy capitalizes on telling stories in this collection more than any other. The song “The Pink Seashell (feat. Ethan Hawke)” showcases audio from the 1994 film “Reality Bites,” paying homage to the featured actor on the track. Another song, “Baby Annihilation” (no, I don’t know why the name is so intense), features spoken word poetry from guitarist Pete Wentz backed by a melancholic orchestra. All of these elements contribute to a unique addition to the band’s discography that still manages to return fans to the roots they have grown to adore.

While this may seem biased, I do not see any major skips on this album. For those that want to enjoy the established sound Fall Out Boy created more than 20 years ago, “Hold Me Like a Grudge” is perfect for you. If you are interested in something different from your eyeliner and Hot Topic past, “I Am My Own Muse” contains a beautiful and dark ballad that is very different from what the group has produced before. The best part? In each track, Patrick Stump’s stunning vocals and Andy Hurley’s tight percussion work is showcased in each song, functioning like a blanket of sameness that still makes the project feel like one cohesive release.

…one of the most ‘cinematic’ albums Fall Out Boy has produced.

If I may be so bold, I think that everyone, no matter your music preference, should listen to “The Kintsugi Kid (Ten Years).” This song quickly became my favorite after an initial listen and I cannot seem to turn the track off. Although many of the songs have lyrics that do not quite make sense (see “an alligator prince with crocodile tears, too many to count” in “Baby Annihilation”), “Ten Years” features lines that are a gut punch to listeners who grew with the band through their hardships. From the second verse saying “passed my old street, the house I grew up in, it breaks your heart, but four of the Ramones are dead” to the repeated “I spent ten years, ten years in a bit of chemical haze,” it is tangible that all four members of the group had a hand in writing this ballad which is sure to be a theme song for members of Generation Z who grew up listening to music from Fueled by Ramen.

However, no album is without its faults. A few tracks are not my favorite such as the highly praised “Heaven, Iowa” track where I do not think the past references to the fandom in 2013 make up for the lackluster musical composition; I do not think it is ever wise for Fall Out Boy to rely on their lyrical abilities to compensate for any area that the notes fall short of my expectations.

For these few, minor factors along with my staunch adoration for their previous work which I sadly do not think can ever be topped, I give this album four out of five stars. While a worthwhile listen that returns Fall Out Boy back to a familiar medium, the band can never top their masterpieces from the late 2000s and early 2010s.