“This is a really important record,” Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz says of their sixth album. That’s less self-aggrandising than it appears: he meant only that the long-serving Chicago pop-punks are counting on it to protect their “legacy” as a band who are poppy enough to get radio play but rock enough to play the big arenas. But American Beauty/American Psycho also bristles with nervy ambition, and if it’s not an American Idiot-style career-changer, it’s certainly one of their better releases. Dropping his penchant for dark sarcasm, lyricist Wentz trains a grimly candid eye on his personal life (“I’m sorry every song’s about you,” goes Fourth of July, a thudding eulogy to a prematurely broken relationship), and sets his words to some of the band’s most brutally direct electro-rock stompers yet: “I am the worst nightmare, don’t stop,” howls frontman Patrick Stump on Novcaine, a song destined to be a crowd-surfing classic. There are pop-culture references by the dozen, the most winning being the track Uma Thurman, which brilliantly juxtaposes the Pulp Fiction actor and the Munsters theme tune.
Fall Out Boy: American Beauty/American Psycho review – grimly candid pop-punk
Caroline Sullivan writes about rock and pop for the Guardian