You guys, I was not expecting the new Fall Out Boy single to sound like this. Remember a few years ago when they made straight-ahead rock music with narcissistic, self-referential lyrics about the price of fame and the bullshit of being an artist?
Well, the lyrics haven’t changed that much, but the sound certainly has. Check out “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light ‘Em Up),” the band’s first new single in 5 years.
First off, the opening is like a Kanye West barnstormer, with the chants and howls and claps all merging into an ominous wall of sound. It’s dark and arresting, and the rest of the song goes even further. There’s a thundering intensity throughout, punctuated with soul-ified high notes from Patrick Stump and what sounds like every drum in New England being pounded at the same time.
But like I said, those lyrics are still Fall Out Boy lyrics. No matter how much this teaser video insists the band is burning its old self forever.
The title alone tells you this is going to be yet another exhausting report about the band being a band and its irritation at people looking for meaning in its work. “I’m in the details with the devil, so now the world can never get me on my level,” we hear. “My songs know what you did in the dark, so light ‘em up. I’m on fire.”
That’s predictably obscure, but it seems like lyricist Pete Wentz is saying that we should be careful about wishing the band would tell some kind of emotional truth through its music, because his band knows about all our darkest secrets. I mean… maybe? Wentz’s perpetual need to antagonize me so boring that I don’t have the energy to think about it that much. Like, I know there’s a lot of artifice in pop music, okay? And I know that rock stars are sometimes unfairly looked to to turn that artifice into timeless truths about life. But guess what? All art is artifice. And eventually, most artists stop getting obsessed with simply pointing that out—as though identifying something is the same as really exploring it—and move on to manipulating that artifice to say something deeper (or at least something else.)
But if I just listen to the song without thinking about it too much, I can still be thrilled by the energy of the track and the power of Patrick Stump’s vocal. I can still appreciate how the band’s sound has evolved, even if its message has stayed the same.
Mark Blankenship didn’t do much in the dark last night except sleep. Is that good enough for a song? He tweets as @IAmBlankenship