Early on in Save Rock and Roll, Patrick Stump sings he'll change you like a remix then raise you like a phoenix, words written, as always, by Pete Wentz, and sentiments that place this 2013 Fall Out Boy comeback in some kind of perspective. After the absurdly ambitious 2008 LP Folie à Deux, the band expanded and imploded, winding up in a pseudo-retirement where Stump released an inspired but confused solo record while Wentz pursued Black Cards, a band that went nowhere. Failure has a way of reuniting wayward souls, and so Stump, Wentz, Joe Trohman, and Andy Hurley all settled their differences and cut Save Rock and Roll, an album that acts like Fall Out Boy never went away while simultaneously acknowledging every trend of the last five years. Alone among their peers, Fall Out Boy are always acutely conscious of what's on the charts, not limiting themselves to the brickwalled blast of modern rock but also dipping into the crystalline shimmer of R&B and even sending up the folk stomp of Mumford & Sons on "Young Volcanoes." One of great things about Fall Out Boy -- the thing that's infuriating and intoxicating in equal measure -- is that it's difficult to discern where their sincerity ends and their parody begins. That's particularly true of Save Rock and Roll, where the group is negotiating its rapidly approaching maturity along with the fashions of the time. They're not entirely successful, partially because they rely on their trusty emo onslaught of unmodulated chords and emotions, partially because there still is a lingering suspicion that they may not truly believe anything they sing. Nevertheless, they're ambitious, admirable, and sometimes thrilling, particularly because the group never fears to tread into treacherous waters, happy to blur the distinctions between pop and rock, mainstream and underground. They bring in Courtney Love to snarl like it's 1993, they have Elton John act like the grand dame he is, but neither overshadows the group's intoxicatingly smeary stance on what rock & roll is. They're not traditionalists -- they're not about three chords and the truth, they're about misdirection and hiding their emotions, then letting it all spill out in one headstrong rush. In 2013, when so many bands are donning tweed caps and pining for a past that never existed, it's kind of fun to have a band tackle the modern world in all its mess as Fall Out Boy do here.
Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine