Much about Patrick Stump has changed since the soaring heights of his Fall Out Boy glory days. Since then, he’s left his former bandmates, the muttonchops and roughly 60 pounds behind, embarking on a solo career that effectively began with the Oct. 18 release of his first solo LP, titled “Soul Punk.”
To process this drastic change, it’s best to classify the Patrick Stump of then and now as two different people: the angst-driven, alternative spirit that was FOB’s masthead and the derivative, suit-wearing pop crooner of today. In many respects, he’s become almost unrecognizable, and part of me had to mourn the loss of the beloved, relatable Patrick Stump of years past.
He’s not entirely gone, however. There are common threads that unite his musical portfolio — his powerhouse vocals and his substantial lyrics continue to serenade us even with the genre shift. In some cases on “Soul Punk,” these enduring characteristics are enough to create dynamic, groovy hits like “This City (feat. Lupe Fiasco).”
Stump smartly employed the talent of everyone’s favorite “rapper with a conscience” on this track. Fiasco succeeds in making a simply worded hit a call to action, and Stump’s nuance and vocal variation makes “This City” one compelling place to live. The deluxe version of “Soul Punk” includes a solo version of the song, on which Stump’s vocal dynamics are further displayed.
“Run Dry (X Heart X Fingers),” likely Stump’s most infectious track, is an eight-and-a-half-minute epic presented in two parts. The first is a hell-raising ode to partying that begins with a chant, incorporates the funkiest of beats and even provides a user’s guide to drinking.
“They say everything in moderation, but I’ll drink you under the table,” he challenges. This part of the song is his clearly his one reckless lapse, but I found myself giving in to the urge to gyrate my hips to the beat. Later in the track, as funk bleeds into hard rock, Stump’s voice somehow bridges the gap. With “Run,” Stump takes his audience on a riotous and decadent musical journey that feels complete.
Sadly, one of the last noteworthy songs on the album is “Spotlight (New Regrets),” albeit a cliche slice of empowerment on which Stump reminds that “you can be your own spotlight.” Lyrics aside, this song is as close as “Soul Punk” gets to tapping the essence of Fall Out Boy, and it’s artfully sung by one of the best voices in the music industry.
Most of the remaining tracks shouldn’t have even made the cutting room floor. Odd transitions and strange tunes complicate and haze the beauty of Patrick Stump’s voice, which should have been the sole focus of the album.
The solo road for lead singers of once-popular bands is a dreary and unmapped one, but even “Soul Punk” can’t dampen a spirit like Patrick Stump’s. Such raw and natural talent made him a beloved icon in the first place, and I’m confident that he will mature and grow with future releases. Previous comparisons equating Stump’s vocal prowess with legends like Michael Jackson are apt, and despite a subpar release, the sky’s the limit for the king of the soul punks.