Fall Out Boy’s ‘So Much (For) Stardust’ album review


Fall Out Boy’s 2023 “So Much (For) Stardust” album cover. Courtesy of Elektra Records-Fall Out Boy.

Cinematic, is the first word that comes to mind when listening to Fall Out Boy’s 2023 “So Much (For) Stardust” album. This is the first album they released since “Mania” in January 2018.

The album — released on March 24 — has themes of love and youth, or rather the lack thereof. From start to finish the 13-song album battles with the thought of lost years, love and hard realizations.

The first song on the album “Love From The Other Side” and the title track “So Much (For) Stardust” has an echoing line, “What would you trade the pain for?,” which perfectly defines the album. While not quite a concept album like 2013’s “Save Rock and Roll,” it all still interconnects.

Especially musically. The songs are cinematic because of the strong orchestral elements that make the album gain the natural rise and fall inherent to most film storylines. Or like an on-stage play, with an orchestra hidden in the pit.

This is evident in a few particular songs, including “Love From the Other Side,” which has serious Trans-Siberian Orchestra “Christmas Eve-Sarajevo” vibes. The beat drops hard when the guitar breaks through the string element and merges to create a rock and roll-classical power melody.

“I Am My Own Muse” incorporates not only a string section, but an entire orchestra; horns, strings, drums, guitars and bass all join together for swells throughout the song.

“So Much (For) Stardust,” the album’s title track, takes a slightly softer string approach as the song’s melancholic theme brings the album to a close, giving meaning behind the entire album.

Orchestral elements are not a new concept for FOB. They’ve used these elements in songs such as “The Phoenix,” off the album “Save Rock and Roll.”

“So Much (For) Stardust” is the latest marker on FOB’s evolutionary timeline. The band’s first two albums, “Evening Out With Your Girlfriend” and “Take This To Your Grave,” both released in 2003, align more closely with the pop-punk genre.

However, the release of “From Under the Cork Tree,” in 2005, and “Infinity on High,” in 2007, established the band as a pop-rock band. From there they grew as such, only deviating with the release of “Mania,” which had a more rhythm and blues style.

Left to right, Fall Out Boy’s drummer Andy Hurley, bassist Pete Wentz, guitarist Joe Trohman and vocalist and guitarist Patrick Stump pose for a band photo. Taken by Pamela Littky, courtesy of Elektra Records-Fall Out Boy.

FOB’s latest album is a slight return to their more well-known pop-rock style. However, throughout their entire discography the one constant is their poetic, but relatable lyrics. The songs also reference certain humanities-related topics. 

“Love From The Other Side” references Michelangelo’s “David” statue, and in “The Kintsugi Kid (Ten Years)” the term “kintsugi,” a Japanese art form that uses gold to fuse broken pottery pieces back together, is used to encompass the song’s theme.

Other songs, such as “The Pink Seashell (feat. Ethan Hawke),” which is more of a spoken-word interlude, is actually Ethan Hawke’s “Life is like a seashell” monologue from the 1994 film “Reality Bites” set to an orchestral background. It fits perfectly with the album’s concept.

Music Videos 

The music videos created for “Love From The Other Side,” “Heartbreak Feels So Good” and “Hold Me Like A Grudge” are also cinematic in their own right.

The music video for Fall Out Boy’s song “Love From The Other Side” off of the 2023 album “So Much (For) Stardust.”

The “Love From The Other Side” music video introduces a surreal depiction of FOB’s journey. The video utilizes a stop-motion meets third-grade stage play style. The band members, guitarist and singer Patrick Stump, bassist Pete Wentz, guitarist Joe Trohman and drummer Andy Hurley, travel from their small village “Winnetkaland” to “The Big City,” as they escape the village’s mayor who wants to destroy them.

Along the way they stop at “Emo Island” where they are given a medallion that is the album’s reigning symbol, a half black and frowny, half white and smiley face. The band then travels back to their village to retrieve an indicated lover-left-behind and finally defeat the mayor and his minions.

The music video for Fall Out Boy’s song “Heartbreak Feels So Good” off of the 2023 album “So Much (For) Stardust.”

The “Heartbreak Feels So Good” music video is rooted in reality and has a disambiguous theme as it follows a prank gone badly, as specifically stated by on-screen text.

The prank involves Stump, Wentz and Hurley, sans Trohman, posing a fake kidnapping of Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo in front of random people. During which Cuomo diverts from the plan revealing his “kidnappers” as FOB. As they run away, a nonchalant Cuomo says, “Fuck those guys.”

The rest of the video is told through GoPro footage of the three guys running from fans and getting in a fight with a gang on their way to a Los Angeles concert stadium.

The music video for Fall Out Boy’s song “Hold Me Like A Grudge” off of the 2023 album “So Much (For) Stardust.”

The “Hold Me Like A Grudge” music video takes more of an absurdist theme lifting off from the storyline in “This Ain’t A Scene, It’s An Arms Race” music video released in 2007. 

As the band is performing, Wentz stage dives and breaks his leg, resulting in him losing an eye and his leg being bionic-ly replaced, making him faster than The Flash.

The video then skips forward 20 years after Wentz’s “accident.” During this time jump, Stump becomes a wrestler, Hurley a monk and Trohman a motion-capture actor. They are all forced to reunite and play to keep the world from ending as they are progressively forgotten and their albums literally fade away.

“So Much (For) Stardust” can be listened to on Spotify, YouTube Music, Pandora, Apple Music and others. It is also available on vinyl, disk and tape at select stores.

Ariana Powell can be reached at [email protected].