Being on the outside of the fanfare surrounding Fall Out Boy, Bring Me the Horizon and all the other merry bunches and bits, is a blissful life. So Much (For) Stardust will do so much for those many who do not have personalities. That is the beauty of music. Apply thirteen tracks to that empty hole where the heart and soul should be and coast off of it until either the band breaks up, is cancelled or turns on their fans. None has hit Fall Out Boy yet, beyond some Kerrang reports of being sued by puppeteers. Rock and roll. Neal Avron, back in the producing saddle and waxing off all those nostalgic charms lost on grubby northerners who were listening to The Hoosiers’ Trick to Life instead of Folie à Deux.
But the idle sounds that spring from So Much (For) Stardust are unreliable to those not already deeply invested in the growth and shape of Fall Out Boy. Winnetkaland should be razed to the ground. To their credit, that is a bit harsh to level at Love From The Other Side, a decent and operatic beginning to So Much (For) Stardust. But that opening song is a red herring, and what follows is nothing short of horrendous. There are hints on that opening track that something is missing. Lyrically, the tracks are empty, clawing at some relevancy twenty years on from having it. Their failure to move their image on has knocked Fall Out Boy and their music suffers from that misplaced confidence in embarrassing-yet-emotive imagery.
Emo-pop gets a bad rap for its generic sway toward feeling sad and needing to justify it. But Fall Out Boy and their pivot into power pop is a shrug of the shoulders at that. Now, it is just sad music affecting the same people but without the excuses of the murky mid-2000s to explain away their iconography. Heartbreak Feels So Good is objectively standard at best, crying now and later and held together by a vague and indifferent guitar piece. Fall Out Boy is still convinced they can make straight pop work, and although there are hints of their roots here, it is shrouded in self-doubt. Straight-shooting dullard tracks mark the rest of the album as a conscious snooze. Heaven, Iowa dares to imply the pearly gates reside where Slipknot hails from.
Beyond allusions to the divine though, Fall Out Boy find themselves half-heartedly playing with the same few emotions they have studied on their tracks over and over. Star-crossed lovers here, fighting for the good feeling there. Although So Much (For) Stardust is as generic as it gets, it does have some fun little moments within. Those pockets are worth sticking around for, a fine enough album that shifts Fall Out Boy away from those pre-proposed stereotypes of the emo-pop genre. They have ditched that almost entirely and are now travelling down the very generic, broader strokes of upbeat rock. It works, for now, anyway. Where it may be So Good Right Now, as one of their titles suggests, there is a lack of longevity to the project and the songs within. Still, ripping off the feel Chris Cornell stuck to his first album is a bold and fascinating move for a band usually tied to the most annoying of all rock tracks, Sugar, We’re Goin Down.