Patrick Stump's "Soul Punk" Was The Album That Saved Fall Out Boy

9 February 2017, 17:35 | Updated: 27 December 2019, 13:47

James Wilson-Taylor

By James Wilson-Taylor

Over 5 years on from its initial release, Patrick's pop-inspired solo effort is long overdue a reappraisal.

Fall Out Boy's Patrick Stump has been making the most of the band's time-off since headlining Reading and Leeds festivals in August, finding a myriad of other musical projects to keep himself busy.

First there was the instrumental backing tracks he provided for the revamped Incredible Hulk Coaster at Universal Studios in Orlando, followed by 'Who's The (Bat)Man', his contribution to the soundtrack of The Lego Batman Movie. But outside of his superhero-related endeavours, many fans have been calling for the FOB frontman to revisit what was arguably the high point of his creative career...

2011's full-length solo album Soul Punk.

Although considered a commercial failure at the time, Soul Punk has garnered something of a cult following since FOB's reformation in 2013, the poppier sounds on display clearly having influenced the band's rejuvenated stadium-ready sound. In fact, it may well be what saved the band from fully imploding in the first place.

Jump back to 2008 as the band are recording Folié A Deux, their fourth studio album and the follow-up to their hugely successful Infinity On High record, with Patrick taking his soul-voice (copyright drunken Brendon Urie) to whole new levels with jazz inspired compositions and R'N'B flourishes that were no-doubt impressive but certainly alienated some sectors of their audience. By the end of the physically and mentally draining promo tour, which had been dogged by negativity from certain areas of the fandom, all members were ready for an extended break.

As the four-piece went on hiatus, the prospect of a solo album gave Patrick free reign to explore his pop side, posting acapella covers on YouTube and wearing his 1980s-infused influences on his sleeve. 

Lead single 'This City', which was later remixed featuring Lupe Fiasco, was the most obvious departure from all previous work, the thrashy emo guitars replaced by a Timbaland-style beat reminiscent of Prince's 'Black Sweat'.

From the hard-edge of 'Explode' to the epic closer 'Coast (It's Gonna Get Better)', it's a complete left-turn and a brave move into more adventurous musical territory.

It set the scene for Fall Out Boy's experiment with more electronic backing tracks on Save Rock 'N' Roll and, in particular, American Beauty/American Psycho.

But, even more vital was the cathartic experience Patrick had making the album and his ability to cope with the often negative reactions it provoked. 

These feelings came to a head when Stump published a personal essay online entitled "We Liked You Better Fat: Confessions of a Pariah" detailing the problems and abuse he had encountered touring Soul Punk, a jaunt that he had funded largely himself and had been dogged by low ticket sales.

"The barrage of 'We liked you better fat,' the threatening letters to my home, the kids that paid for tickets to my solo shows to tell me how much I sucked without Fall Out Boy, that wasn’t something I suppose I was or ever will be ready for."

But rather than allow himself to fall apart, Patrick took a "f*ck the haters" approach, collaborating with the likes of Bruno Mars and All Time Low in the studio and, crucially, rebuilding his confidence for a Fall Out Boy reunion, no longer afraid of the criticism and bad vibes that had been thrown in their direction in their latter days.

So although it may not have made the mark on popular culture that his work with Pete, Joe and Andy has, Soul Punk allowed Patrick to find new sounds to push his band forward and the battle scars to cope with anything the world would throw at them.

The real question is, now that FOB are resting once more, will Stump deliver another soul classic along the way?

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