By: Tommy “T-Rod” Rodriguez
Few bands shaped my early music listening habits quite like Fall Out Boy. Ever since I first got my hands on my older brother’s iPod Nano in the 2000s, I’d forever been in love with songs like “Sugar We’re Going Down” and “Thnks fr th Mmrs.” The band’s hooky pop punk and interesting lyrical imagery and vocabulary made for certified classics in the 2000s and early 2010s. As much as the band impacted me, they impacted many more people of my generation. Hell, even now in college, those same songs get college seniors as hyped as when “No Hands” comes on. And of course that new single of theirs, “Love From the Other Side” kicks all kinds of ass (which we’ll get into more later).
With all that being said though, it’s a shame to admit that for a while, I fell out of love with the band’s output. There were definitely some great joints on their Save Rock and Roll and AB/AP records, but once I got older, that same hold they had on me wore off. I still haven’t listened to Mania to this day, its electro pop singles completely turning me off from their sound, a “fall out” if you will.
Unfortunately, this kind of stuff is all too common when anyone has a strong personal relationship with an artist’s music. How many artists have you listened to that, after a while, you just decide to drop entirely? I know plenty of folks jumped ship after Carti went full vampire on Whole Lotta Red, Metallica notoriously divided their fanbase once they steered to alt-metal, people still slander Dawn FM for being too poppy (for some reason). To what end are fans entitled to stop listening to new stuff, just because it doesn’t bring back that old feeling?
Well, in short, I think it depends on two things: listener mentality and song quality.
At the end of the day, artists are making music for their fans…but those same fans demanding that artists stick to their own wheelhouse can be very toxic. Speaking on Fall Out Boy, people were so harsh to them in their creative and commercial peak that they straight up insulted its members for straying from their punkier roots. Understanding that the creative process represents an artistic vision helped me become much more empathetic to records that, while not the best, allowed artists to try new sounds. Sometimes experimentation is good: do you think Kendrick Lamar would be so beloved now if he tried to make multiple Good Kid Maad Cities? Hell, for as poppy as they are, “Young Volcanoes” and “Favorite Record” are still some of my favorite Fall Out Boy songs ever. They’re different, but are examples that artists trying new things can pay off in big ways. We owe it to our favorite artists to shake up the formula.
On the other hand however, it’s also important for that new sound from artists to mean something. An artist changing sounds should not be them trying on new clothes or getting an out of place dancehall beat: the best experimentations are ones that are researched and explored properly with EFFORT. For me, the worst of newer FOB felt like them just cashing in on the wave of electro rock that was popular. It felt like watching a friend try to fit in a crowd that they shouldn’t be with. In that same sense, when some of today’s stars try to latch onto modern trends without any substance, it’s justifiable to feel a little hurt or disappointed, especially if the music itself doesn’t bring out an artist’s core strengths.
With all this being said, “Love From the Other Side” ticks every box for me in regards to artists trying new things but making great music. It’s a rip-roaring example of their older guitar punch, but has a great mix of synths and cinematic presentation that makes it feel entirely new. Patrick Stump’s vocals soar higher than the stratosphere on the hook, and the songwriting is as hungry as a young band just starting out. I may have fallen out with these guys, but I’m still so happy they’re making music, and I’m incredibly excited for this album they have coming up. It’s always possible to fall out with an artist’s newer style…but if a single like this reels you back in, it’s always a fun time.