Album Review: Patrick Stump – Soul Punk

First, a statement: Patrick Stump the solo artist is not Patrick Stump the Fall Out Boy frontman. The famous singer-songwriter has dropped the pop-punk vibe for something more egotistical, funky, and R&B infused. For anybody who isn’t yet familiar with the phrase “soul punk”, which is what Stump claims his solo work is (and what he has called this, his first LP), it is, if this record is anything to go by, a kind of Kelly Clarkson/Michael Jackson hybrid.

And not in a good way, if that could ever be good. A worrying number of tracks follow the same formula, getting funky and soulful for the verse and embracing a pop-power ballad sound for the chorus.

The results are disappointing. On “Coast”, for example, he sings, “It’s gonna get better, so just coast with me,” a cluster of Stumps chiming in very close harmony and far-too-close-for-comfort mixing on the word “better”, echoing it three times. When it comes to the embarrassing opening track, “Explode”, he belts, “I feel like I’m gonna explode any moment, I’m ready to blow/I can’t stand it, I get so worried,” and it becomes clear that the shiny pretend-rock that is pop rock will be working with full force.

Still further, the more soulful side of things often seems to slip up. On “The ‘I’ in Lie”, as on plenty of the tracks, Stump tries his hand at falsetto (think more like Justin Timberlake than Jackson) and sounds, at worst, uncomfortable with the transition and, at best, like he’s trying to show off.

As an album, the shift in style doesn’t really work. Where Soul Punk‘s many choruses let Stump down with their over-emotion, the funk, R&B, and soul elements sound forced, even obnoxious.

Nonetheless, Stump should be given credit for his ambition. It isn’t easy, after all, to move on from being the impetus behind an incredibly successful band and emerge as a solo artist who isn’t judged by the standards of the band in question. And Stump, by distancing himself from Fall Out Boy’s musical style, has certainly taken a step away– and a definitive one at that.

The problem, though, is this: Differentiating yourself isn’t the same as creating quality music, and Patrick Stump has only managed to do the first and not the second.

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