Every Tuesday, Dan Weiss runs down the week’s new full-length music releases, from charting hits to more obscure depths, the underrated and the overrated, from a critical pop fan’s perspective.
ALBUM OF THE WEEK: Fall Out Boy – Save Rock and Roll
The title’s a laugh riot for old school fans who will be less than amused by the One Republic-derived melodies and synth strings and Big Sean guest verses. But programmed beats keep them on task. The first two songs pound and growl like very little pop (or rock and roll) these days, and Patrick Stump clearly learned to sing in the off-season, most impressively alongside U.K. singer Foxes on the sexy “Just One Yesterday” and Courtney Love on the explosive album highlight and only true rock-guitar song, “Rat a Tat.” “Miss Missing You” is kaleidoscopic synth-pop that could’ve been on Tegan and Sara‘s new album, while “Young Volcanoes” shapes the chords of Train’s “Hey, Soul Sister” into a palatable song after all. But this enjoyable, overreaching band’s best album is here, where Stump finally takes control of the band and overexposed, self-pitying Pete Wentz learns what a bassist actually does. To steal a line from “Rat a Tat,” “It’s never getting better than this.”
Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Mosquito
Since they’ve refused to rock for the last ten years, we can enjoy a song like the title bloodsucker as the throwaway-turned-centerpiece it is. Having foregone riffs for a few years of ballads and synthpop, Nick Zinner dusts off his effects pedals from 2003’s “Rich” for the choir-assisted curlicue “Sacrilege” and kicks off this band’s deepest-grooving album, from more ballads (“Subway” is their foggiest ever, “Despair” their warmest) to inspired weirdness (the dubby “Under the Earth,” Kool Keith’s walk-on rap verse in “Buried Alive”). Besides, refusing to rock is what gives the club-ready “These Paths” its hypnotic beauty in the first place.
Ghostface Killah & Adrian Younge – Twelve Reasons to Die
In the tradition of Jay-Z’s American Gangster, here a mature artist invents a plot device to return to the rapping of his irrepressible youth and make titles like “Murder Spree.” The concept has something to do with a comic book, while Adrian Younge’s soundtrack-y backdrops pay tribute to, ha, RZA, who exec-produces. But for all the marketing, this might be Ghost’s most normal album ever, with lots of murder and twinkly pianos crammed into under 40 minutes perfectly suited to score Kill Bill Vol. 3 and 4. Maybe even 5.