"If this is it, I want to go out with a bang," Patrick Stump sings on "Explode," the opening track on "Soul Punk." It's a sentiment that hangs over the singer's debut full-length, which Stump recorded following eight years as the frontman of Fall Out Boy. Essentially, "Soul Punk" is the exhalation of a funk/soul diehard who has been part of a pop-punk group for nearly a decade: while Stump's high-register, highly passionate singing distinguished FOB from their peers on the Warped Tour, it was clear early on in the group's career that Stump's vocal choices were more comparable to those of Michael Jackson than Billie Joe Armstrong. "Soul Punk," then, is his labor of love, a gooey, high-production ode to a genre that Stump hasn't had the opportunity to explore head-on, and if this is this white boy's only shot to play that funky music before Fall Out Boy's inevitable reunion, then he's gonna do it as loud as he can, dammit.
"Soul Punk" is not exactly "Fall Out Boy With Synthesizers," since Pete Wentz's tongue-in-cheek songwriting style is nowhere to be found. Instead of snark and heartbreak conveyed through intricately constructed metaphors, Stump often operates with a dazzling earnestness, as on the Chicago salute "This City," the hopeful anthem "Coast (It's Gonna Get Better)" and even the guilt-racked "The 'I' In Lie," in which he screams without shame, "I'm a cheat! Cheat! Cheat!" Some of "Soul Punk" tries too hard to innovate and falls flat, but for the most part, the album is a blast, because Stump is a wildly talented singer and he finally sounds comfortable working in the style that he adores. Call it a guilty pleasure if you want to justify the repeated listens, but there's nothing embarrassing about Stump's blue-eyed grooves.
Which songs on "Soul Punk" stand up next to Fall Out Boy's best work? Here's our Twitter-length track-by-track review of each song.
You be the judge: What do you think of Patrick Stump's "Soul Punk" album? Tweet us your own review at @billboard (using hashtag #bbstump). The best tweets will be posted on Billboard.com in the coming days.
1. Explode - Stump's opus kicks off with its most jittery track, a electro-pop fire-starter full of nervous energy. Dig the breakdown at the 2:40 mark.
2. This City - "From every corner to every block," Patrick loves him some Chi-town. Single may be too syrupy for some, but the chorus sure makes a fun sing-along.
3. Dance Miserable - Forget the slinky percussion and slighty sinister (for Stump) vibe -- at 2:36, the singer lets out a wail we didn't think he had in him.
4. Spotlight (New Regrets) - Instantly infectious and pristinely arranged, "Spotlight" is a glittery triumph that could be a building block for Stump's solo career.
5. The "I" In Lie - Stump even sounds joyful when he's singing about being a cheat! Not sure he can pull off the heedlessness of a line "If you're unfaithful, put your hands in the air," though.
6. Run Dry (X Heart X Fingers) - Awash in warm synthesizers that form a slick dance party halfway through, "Run Dry" is "Soul Punk's" 8-minute centerpiece that never gets dull.
7. Greed - After the ultra-cool showcase of "Run Dry," "Greed" sounds cluttered until the bombastic instrumental outro arrives to cleanse the listener's palette.
8. Everybody Wants Somebody - After a horn-laden intro, Stump dials back his high-pitched warble… for about 20 seconds. Once again, a bit too much going on, but a solid album cut.
9. Allie - This is more like it: subtlety suits Stump, and with its seductive verses and creeping bass, "Allie" doesn't overwhelm the listener (prog-rock guitar solo aside).
10. Coast (It's Gonna Get Better) - "I keep making mistakes, but it takes some time to get anything right," Stump correctly declares in this gorgeous slice of pop.
11. This City (feat. Lupe Fiasco) - Guess who else loves Chicago? Lupe Fiasco, of course! Not sure if this remix is absolutely necessary, but the rapper's verse is tight enough.