Patrick Stump, the artist formerly known as the lead singer of Fall Out Boy, is finally back in action since the pop-punk group called it quits and hung up their instruments in 2009. Since then, Pete Wentz formed electro-pop outfit Black Cards and guitarist Joe Trohman and drummer Andy Hurley went back to their roots with metal band The Damned Things.
Stump, however, took the Jason DeRulo approach and decided to ride solo, scrapping the pop-punk sound that he was confined to with Fall Out Boy for a more soulful approach. Since his solo debut Soul Punk was set back with delays, Stump released a holdover EP entitled Truant Wave, to show off his chops as a different kind of singer.
The EP kicks off with an overwhelming synthline on “Porcelain,” which rapidly segues into Stump’s vocals which, although a breath of fresh air from his Fall Out Boy days, come across as painfully overproduced. Despite the producer’s greasy hands all over the track, Stump’s voice soars with some incredible falsetto runs and proves that Wentz isn’t the only band alum with a knack for witty lyrics.
“Spotlight (Oh Nostalgia)” was one of Stump’s first singles (along with an alternate version called “New Regrets”) and is easily the strongest track on the six-song EP. More organic than it’s more popular counterpart, the emphasis lies in the heartstring-tugging emotions of Stump’s singing as opposed to the piano chords or pulsing drums that make up a key role of the heavy-handed instrumentation.
Stump’s songwriting draws several parallels to the late, great Michael Jackson, but the influences are almost forced onto the listener on “Cute Girls.” Everything from Stump’s rapid-fire, staccato delivery to his constant switching to falsetto and back again, is deja entendu: we’ve already heard it before from the King of Pop.
“Love, Selfish Love” has a jaunty melody that meshes well with Stump’s voice, as he eases off the soul and crafts a sonically aesthetic dance floor jam. His vocals bounce up and down over ambient guitar riffs, nifty handclaps and vibrant drums, and brings some much needed energy to the EP after the more lethargic “Cute Girls.”
“As Long As I Know I’m Getting Paid” has an almost disco-esque synthesizer that seems a little out of place, but Stump’s voice oozes with swagger and brims with confidence as he ironically sings about the money hungry nature of the music industry. Overproduction rears its ugly head again, as Stump is almost completely playing second fiddle to instrumentation that is a little too much to swallow.
The EP closes in a big way (pun intended) with “Big Hype,” a track that sounds almost orchestral. Stump’s voice rings triumphantly on the up-tempo tune, and showcases his range with pride. If “Big Hype” came from the cutting room floor of Soul Punk, then when the full-length drops later this year, listeners can set the bar high for Stump’s effort.
Truant Wave is what it is: a hold-over for fans disappointed by the continued delays for the release of the full-length. Stump shines vocally on all six tracks that comprise the EP, but if he can’t get a handle on the overproduction running rampant over his early efforts, the much-too-slick sound could quickly unravel Soul Punk and overstay its welcome in listeners’ headphones.