Is there any point in having positive expectations for new Fall Out Boy music anymore? Granted, both Save Rock And Roll and American Beauty / American Psycho were respectively great and decent albums despite how much the shift to pure pop rended the fanbase in two, but M A N I A saw a band staring so deeply down the rabbit hole that they eventually fell in, a horrid, flabby mess of an album that has unfortunately seen the band ride to highest heights in a long time. And yes, it’s an old joke at this point to rag on Fall Out Boy for as much shameless pandering as they do, but when considering that they were one of the most exciting and innovative pop-rock bands of the 2000s, it’s justly warranted.
And that brings us to Lake Effect Kid, their new three track EP framed as a tribute to their home city Chicago, and built around the title track which began life as a demo that appeared on a 2008 Decaydance mixtape, as well as what Pete Wentz describes as a “semi-new song” and a “very new song”. Even just from those tidbits of descriptions, Lake Effect Kid comes across like something of a retrospective of the last decade of Fall Out Boy, chronicling how excellent the Folie À Deux era was, right up to now, where a band so creatively moribund is scrambling for whatever ideas they can, regardless of how little they work.
On that merit, it’s incredibly easy to identify Super Fade as the “very new song” here, as it’s less of a sore thumb and more of a pus-filled, gangrenous one. For some ungodly reason it’s a retread of the Young And Menace formula with lumpen electronic drops and overly-synthetic production that doesn’t feel like a single human was involved, but given that the uncomfortably shrill high notes are a result of Patrick Stump himself rather than any sort of pitch-shifting, it might be actively worse. Thankfully the other two tracks are a lot better, with the title track especially coming as surprise. Fall Out Boy could’ve easily taken the original demo, swapped out any prominent guitars for synths and jammed in a Post Malone feature somewhere, but no, Lake Effect Kid is a simple remaster that feels true to what they were doing ten years ago. The smart, obtuse lyrics return in all of their obnoxious glory, Stump once again feels like a natural vocal powerhouse without being smothered in effects, and while it’s undeniably poppy and overblown, Folie À Deux’s rock core has a very definitive presence within. It’ll never be among their best, but to hear this messy, modern incarnation of Fall Out Boy release a song like this that’s so clearly indebted to the past is definitely a good thing.
As for City In A Garden, the “semi-new song”, it really just falls somewhere in the middle. The Save Rock And Roll style of clattering, heavy percussion and gleaming synths interwoven with equally-polished guitars gives it a feeling of great poise, but that’s really all there is to say about it. At a point in time where Fall Out Boy have been all about the extremes on either side of the quality spectrum, a song that’s only decent is definitely appreciated but ultimately falters when sandwiched between each on of those extremes. Still, there’s clearly still an affinity within the Fall Out Boy camp for their past selves if Lake Effect Kid is anything to go by, and for as all-over-the-place as this EP is, in areas it’s moving in the right direction. Given the nature of a glorified odds-and-ends collection like this, it probably won’t amount to much, but it’s good to have regardless, and serves to spur on hope that maybe some more forgotten Fall Out Boy tracks will see the light of day eventually. It’s the only way we’re going to get decent music from them anymore, after all.
For fans of: Panic! At The Disco, Twenty One Pilots, The Academy Is…
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Lake Effect Kid’ by Fall Out Boy is out now on Island Records.