Monday, October 31, 2011

Soul Punk offers new sound

By: Emma Shinn

Last year, I reviewed Patrick Stump’s EP Truant Wave, and noted that it was being released as a precursor to his first solo album. (For those of you that don’t know, an EP is a musical release that is more than a single, but less than an album). I mentioned that the release date for the full-length album had been pushed back multiple times before it finally settled at October 18.
At the time, I predicted (based on my opinions of the EP) that Soul Punk would be quite a change from Stump’s former work with Fall Out Boy. I also thought that even though I would remain a fan no matter what, I probably wouldn’t be too fond of the new musical direction in which Stump was going. After listening to Soul Punk, I have found that I was right on the first count, but wrong on the latter.
While this new music is noticeably different from Fall Out Boy’s sound, as a long time fan, I actually like the change quite a bit. When the title Soul Punk was announced, many fans and critics questioned what exactly that meant. Going into this album as a listener, I still didn’t quite know what I was going to be hearing, but as soon as the first song begins, you realize just exactly what it was that Stump was trying to describe with that title. The songs are a mixture of synth-pop and electro-punk music, with soulful lyrics written straight from Stump’s heart.
My favorite song on the album is the fast-paced fourth track entitled “Spotlight (New Regrets).” With a beat that makes you alternately want to dance and clap your hands, and inspirational lyrics like, “You could be the star, you could shine so bright.” “Spotlight” is a brilliant pick-me-up song for when you’re feeling out of sorts.
The album features two versions of the song “This City”, one of which is a remix featuring rapper Lupe Fiasco. The remix was the first (and so far only) single released off the album, and was written about Stump and Fiasco’s hometown of Chicago. Both versions of “This City” make for great listening, but I definitely feel that the Lupe Fiasco version has an incredible vibe that you don’t realize is missing from the original until you hear it in the remix.
Probably the track with the most interesting background is “Allie.” The song was used as the basis for a contest run on Stump’s website during the lead-up to the album’s release. The album was available for preorder online, and everyone who used that option was automatically entered into the contest. Twenty people were chosen at random from that list and Stump re-recorded the song with their name in place of “Allie.” These people were then mailed their personalized copy of the song.
Overall, I would recommend this album to anyone who likes synth-pop or electronic music, or is just looking for something new and different to listen to. In a culture where most music genres are starting to sound the same, I can honestly say that this album is completely unique. I’d also recommend it to any Fall Out Boy fans who may be feeling dubious about Stump’s solo career. It’s definitely a change from the sound you’re used to, but the layered beats and falsetto voice will capture your attention immediately.
Soul Punk is available on CD in stores, or for digital download from iTunes or Stump’s website, patrickstump.com. It is available on vinyl from the website as well.

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