“So Much (For) Stardust” - Fall Out Boy Album Review

Story posted March 31, 2023 in CommRadio, Arts & Entertainment by Evan Smith

Fall Out Boy spent months teasing its first album in five years as “something tangible,” and somehow, a chaotic marketing campaign featuring pink seashells, Field of Dreams and a large raccoon came together in a convoluted Fall Out Boy story that fans of the band managed to uncover.

So Much (For) Stardust is the band’s eighth studio album and its first since 2018’s experimental mess “MANIA.” Since that time, the members seemingly changed their perspectives on music, resulting in an album that partially feels like a return to the roots that made Fall Out Boy popular to begin with.

“Something tangible” was a nod to the result that for the first time since before their 2009 hiatus, the songs on this album clearly feature each band member’s instruments rather than pop-based instrumentals as have become commonplace in the group’s last three albums.

This is partially due to the production of Neal Avron, the producer of So Much (For) Stardust, who reunited with the band for the first time since 2008’s Folie à Deux. His mixing allows the guitars and drums to shine throughout even the poppier portions of the track list.

Fall Out Boy also re-signed with Fueled By Ramen to release the album.

Each band member shines through on the record. Patrick Stump’s orchestral compositions guide the record throughout and his vocal work is his best since 20007s Infinity on High.

Pete Wentz leads the tempo on bass and gets his own spoken word track on the absurdly named “Baby Annihilation.”

Andy Hurley gets to belt his drums on tracks such as the lead single “Love From The Other Side.”

Joe Trohman, who stepped away from the band following the completion of the album, takes over tracks with guitar riffs such as his funky backing to the chorus of “Hold Me Like a Grudge.”

While the album returns a lot of aspects of Fall Out Boy’s original sound that made them famous, it also returns some of the recent trends that caused the older fans this album’s marketing attempts to reach to leave the fandom in the first place.

The largest detriment to the quality of the album is that about half the tracks feature a chorus that just repeats a four or five word phrase repeatedly until it reaches annoyance.

The unbearable “So Good Right Now,” is the prime example, representing pop-centric Fall Out Boy at its worst. Tracks like “What a Time To Be Alive” and “So Much (For) Stardust,” are overall good tracks, but the choruses just feel incomplete.

Another issue holding back the album is simply the musical musings of Patrick Stump. Much of the anomalies that plague tracks are a direct result of his taste and production style.

Stump has a habit of over making music, which results in convoluted instrumentals that don’t come together. This combined with his attempts at genre-mixing that doesn’t combine well that keep tracks such as “The Kintsugi Kid (Ten Years)” from becoming standout tracks.

Stump also added weird moments into songs like the faded pre-chorus to “Hold Me Like a Grudge,” that doesn’t ruin the song, but were unneeded and unwelcome to the listening experience.

So Much (For) Stardust features a mix of every nearly every genre of song Fall Out Boy has tried to make, including metal, pop and even R&B (Heaven, Iowa) mixed into an album that should be inconsistent, yet somehow keeps a consistent feel throughout.

The tracks where the band leans back into heavier sounds and belting choruses stand out the most, including tracks like “I Am My Own Muse” and “Fake Out,” stand out as the best deep cuts on the record.

Pete Wentz’s writing sees a step up from “MANIA,” and features lyrics that nearly rival the thoughts spoken on the band's early work. However, the songs consistently lack the depth the cyst from that past era exemplified.

This record sounds like what could have been the result if Fall Out Boy released a record in between “Folie à Deux” and 2013’s “Save Rock and Roll.” 

Overall, “So Much (For) Stardust” is a career spanning effort by Fall Out Boy that sees the band  take a step back to their roots, and a step up in their quality. While the album doesn’t reach the pre-hiatus heights of the band, it is certainly a step fans of the band will enjoy.

Rating: 7/10

Reviewer’s Favorites: “Love From The Other Side,” “Hold Me Like a Grudge,” “Fake Out,” “I Am My Own Muse”

Reviewer’s Least Favorites: “So Good Right Now,” “Baby Annihilation,” “The Kintsugi Kid (Ten Years)

Evan Smith is a second-year majoring in broadcast Journalism. To contact him, email ers5828@psu.edu.