POZ Single Review: Fall Out Boy - “My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light Em Up)”

by Zack Zarrillo - Feb 5, 2013

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by Jesse Richman, edited by Erik van Rheenen

The most successful artists know that the key to popular longevity comes in learning how to change while staying the same. It’s something Fall Out Boy have done repeatedly over the years; the scruffy pop-punk act of Take This To Your Grave begat the arena-emo marauders of the band’s commercial heyday, which in turn birthed the more personal-oriented act that furnished Folie A Deux. So if the first glimpse of post-hiatus Fall Out Boy appears a little strange, take a step back and try to see it in context.

Think of the Chicago quartet like a four-headed Doctor Who; they’re not different people than they were before, they’ve just regenerated once again. New trappings, same Time Lords.Because, sure, if you spent the three years of Fall Out Boy’s hiatus praying to the Patron Saint Of Liars And Fakes for a 10-year Take This To Your Grave tour and pretending nothing post-2004 existed, you could be forgiven for mistaking “My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light Em Up)” for an alien transmission; though you’d at least have to concede that that song title is quintessential Fall Out Boy.  But if you’re the sort who instead spent that period hashtagging Tumblr posts #BelieversNeverDie and reblogging animated gifs of Pete Wentz going tongue-to-fingers-to-eyebrow, all the while soaking up Folie A Deux — an album that really needed some soaking time for its nuance to bloom — then “Light Em Up” should feel like the natural next step in what’s been an ongoing process of discovery and reinvention.

“Light Em Up” is a logical progression for the band — sample the cavernous stomp of “This Ain’t A Scene, It’s An Arms Race”’s monster pre-chorus, the herky-jerk chug of “I Don’t Care”’s verses, the nervous breakdance of Patrick Stump solo jams like “Explode” and “Porcelain,” and a splash of what’s-hot-on-radio, and “Light Em Up” is the eminently predictable conclusion we all should have seen coming. Yet, given the time away and the fact that they’ve never put it all together in quite this way, the song still manages to sound fresh. 

That’s due largely to the track: full of dramatic chanting and hand-clap rhythms, it’s cut from the same cloth as the best Lex Luger beats, full of spare pomp and grandeur and melodrama, and when everything around it — save for a ululating Stump — gives way at 2:15 mark, “Light Em Up” hits as hard as any screamo breakdown. Guitar might be largely absent from the recording, but buried in the mix of the song’s soaring chorus is some wild, spacy tapwork — has Joe Trohman been taking lessons from Teppei Teranishi or Colin Frangicetto behind our backs? It’s not clear how much Wentz and drummer Andy Hurley are doing here and how much is programmed; either way, the band have got the bottom end on lock. And Stump’s given free reign to do what he does best: and he does. 

The end result is barely three minutes long, yet it manages to feel even more brief, a conflagration that rages and then fizzles as quickly as it began. It begs to be listened to on repeat. It’s the sort of triumphal blast that lifts you with it; midway through each play I slip into hazy fantasies of joining 2 Chainz in the track’s video, stomping and spraying fire like kids playing Godzilla. Jason Tate of AbsolutePunk has “Light It Up” pegged for March Madness highlight reels, but it feels even bigger than that; it makes me wish the World Cup wasn’t still a year away, that the Olympics weren’t a year past. It’s exactly the kind song that the return of one of the world’s biggest bands should herald. “Light Em Up” is great, but more appropriately, it’s grand.

★★★★.5/★★★★★

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  11. optimisticdaringme reblogged this from propertyofzack and added:
    Love this review....also brings up Colin Frangicetto; fuck yeah
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  18. underdog-13 reblogged this from propertyofzack and added:
    5 OUT OF 5
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  25. xtellthatmick reblogged this from propertyofzack and added:
    DOCTOR WHO REFERENCES. Light Em Up is great, but more appropriately, it’s grand
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