A social stigma surrounds Patrick Stump.
The name? Fall Out Boy. Also, Pete Wentz. You can’t go talking about one without mentioning the other two, it’s a strange factor. Now that I’ve got that out of the way, let’s get serious.
As the former vocalist of a now-rumoured-to-be-defunct-pop/rock-band (let’s be honest, he was never the frontman), Stump has resurfaced from the ashes of an extended hiatus and emerged a soft-worn musician with his edges chipped off. Citing his eclectic taste in music and long-spanning love for soul and all things Michael Jackson, Stump is in the throes of a musical overhaul with the debut of his first solo album, Soul Punk, coming out this October.
The first single from the album was released last year, with two incredibly different renditions for the fans to choose from to go on the record. Spotlight (New Regrets) is an upbeat pop, accompanied by synths and punctuated with addictive drum beats that’ll have you humming the song long after you’ve heard it.
Its counterpart, Spotlight (Oh Nostalgia) has a darker slant to it, a semi-sinister twist to the heavy placement and gravity of his words and deeper voice.
Is the song a personal jab at his former music career? Who knows. And honestly, who cares? The one man band is happy to distance himself from his former musical endeavours of emo-punk and pop/rock. Now that he’s broken away from the grasps of what the music industry expects from him, he can do anything he damn well wants and it looks like his efforts are paying off.
His second single from the album is, aptly titled, “This City”.
The Chicago native has never been shy nor secretive about his hometown. You’ll often find him talking about it during interviews, especially when he starts recounting his childhood. His love for the city is commendable, but the song says different. It’s sad to say that while he collaborated with fellow Chicago native Lupe Fiasco to up the ante, he’s actually being overshadowed by Lupe’s lyrics.
Stump’s own lyrics are lackluster at best. The absence of raw emotion, impressive coded meanings and twisted words that came from the pen of Pete Wentz leaves Stump’s musical efforts, for the lack of a better word, bare. There is no doubt that Stump is a talented musician in his own right but that’s the thing. He’s a musician. That doesn’t make him a good lyricist.
Case in point – a verse from This City: “This city is my city, And I love it, yeah I love it, I was born and raised here, I got it made here, And if I have my way, I’m going to stay” which makes it pretty clear how much he loves Chicago, but, really, Stump? Really?
Stump’s practiced ease with instruments and a sensitive ear honed by years of extensive exposure to different types of genres has made him an aficionado in producing music. Key word: producing. Every tune he churns out is a hook for more of his brilliance, and is a constant reflection of who he is and, ultimately, who his influences are.
His voice is a machine; a fine-tuned and well-ranged machine. The clarity in his voice is wondrous, with a smooth tinge of soul and a confidence that leaves you breathless when he hits the notes.
In all honesty, Stump has been one of my favourite artists since he started out, and I’m eagerly anticipating his solo album. Bare and straightforward lyrics aside, I’m proud to see that he’s gone this far without the help of his former bandmates. He’s gaining his own following now, no longer hiding beneath the hats and the once-iconic sideburns he constantly sported. He’s finally grown comfortable to having the spotlight on him, and is now happily making the music he wants to make.
Don’t get me wrong, he’s still got some ways to go, but I’m happy (and proud) to call myself a fan, and, really, how often do you hear that from a critic?