In the past six months, we have seen a throwback to the early 21st century, and for a moment it seemed like the Holy Emo Trinity was going to make a comeback. Punk-rock band My Chemical Romance wrapped up their reunion tour last October. Brendan Urie was still heading Panic! At The Disco (until very, very recently). And just a few weeks ago, Fall Out Boy released their new single “Love From The Other Side” after three years of silence.
Fall Out Boy stands out in this unofficial trio in that, unlike the two other aforementioned bands, which have either disbanded or slowly lost all their members, they have remained relatively solid since their inception—maintaining a steady lineup since 2003. Despite a hiatus back in 2009 which led members like lead vocalist Patrick Stump and bassist Pete Wentz to dabble in their own solo endeavors, the band always made it clear that they never truly split up.
“When we were kids the only thing that got us through most days was music,” Fall Out Boy said in 2013 when announcing their comeback album and tour after their so-called indefinite hiatus. “It’s why we started Fall Out Boy in the first place. This isn’t a reunion because we never broke up. We needed to plug back in and make some music that matters to us. The future of Fall Out Boy starts now. Save Rock And Roll…”
For a band that has never broken up, a new single seems quite ordinary. If they’re still together, why wouldn’t they still be making music? Despite its mundane quality, the release of a new song makes the wait that much sweeter, proving that despite more than two decades of experience in the industry, they haven’t lost their touch, or, god-forbid, sold-out (something that cannot be said for a certain other member in the Holy Trinity). While Fall Out Boy strayed from their hard-rock roots, shifting to a slightly less intense pop-punk in the 2010s, they still managed to make music that sounded wholly like them. As a result, their newer albums were still widely regarded as a classic embodiment of their original sound.
If anything, their newest single demonstrates that they truly haven’t lost their emo touch. It’s grungy, angsty, and completely emulates the rock-and-roll, punk aesthetic of their oldest albums—something they hadn’t done in recent years. It’s incredibly nostalgic, particularly for those who grew up in the emo scene in the early 2000s, as well as those who thought they were emo in middle school but really weren’t. (Tumblr, where the Holy Emo Trinity moniker was made popular, deluded a lot of kids into thinking that they were more emo than they were, myself included. The lesson to take away is that wearing all black and listening to rock music doesn’t make you any more, or less, cool than anyone else.)
With that expectation in mind, dreamy isn’t a word that you would generally use to describe a song by Fall Out Boy, but that is exactly how “Love on the Other Side” starts. Smooth, lulling instrumentals may deceive a potentially new listener, considering that this has never been one of Fall Out Boy’s signature motifs. The sweeping orchestral music may place them in a false sense of security, rendering them unprepared for the striking percussion and bass guitar that follow immediately after. After this slow, forty second-long intro to the song, the pounding drums and sick guitar riff that follow make the wait worthwhile, especially when Stump leads with the powerful vocals he’s so well known for.
The lyrics are just as bleak and dramatic as their older music, which has always been a reflection of the world as they see it. With a “model house life meltdown still a modern dream letdown” as their opener, it’s clear that they haven’t become any more upbeat since their last release—despite the fact that Stump seemed to be having a much more relaxed time in 2019 singing about “Summer Days” with Martin Garrix and Macklemore. Fall Out Boy has achieved widespread success in the music industry, but it seems as though living in a nice house isn’t all that it’s chalked up to be. Stump sings it like a confession, revealing that he’s “dying out here” and isn’t sure “what would you trade the pain for.”
Ample use of metaphor evokes imagery straight out of a museum, though the fact that “We were a hammer to the Statue of David / We were a painting you could never frame,” implies that perhaps the relationship developed as the centerpoint of this song wasn’t a masterpiece at all. It’s abundantly obvious that the song laments a sort of lost love, and if that wasn’t sorrowful enough, they also feel like an outsider, not unlike a “kid playing pretend in his father’s suit.” It’s a depressing visual that gets no more uplifting as the song progresses.
Fall Out Boy’s classic doom and gloom is what drew so many people to them in the first place. They provided a space for fans to feel angst, get upset, and be downright depressed, while also acknowledging that those feelings are very much normal. In singing about the worst parts of life, it seems that Fall Out Boy created a sort of haven that allows everyone to be comfortable with their discomfort. That haven may help them come to terms with their discomfort in the long run, especially if they’re able to expel it all in the moment through song.
It’s difficult to say whether lyrics like “Sending my love from the other side of the apocalypse / And I just about snapped, don’t look back / Every lover’s got a little dagger in their hand” are as relatable to young teenagers today, considering this demographic was a good chunk of their fanbase earlier in their career. However, for all those who grew up with the band’s music in its heyday, it may be a striking reflection of a particularly painful breakup.
Though this single may not be the most depressing Fall Out Boy song to ever exist, it’s still the closest they’ve come to emulating their old music. That fact alone is enough to make it a certified emo classic.