Two boys holding hands, one wearing a monk's robe, the other wearing a black T-shirt and jeans while puffing a cloud of smoke. It's an immediately arresting image. It's also, as you can see above, the cover art for Fall Out Boy's upcoming album, Save Rock and Roll, which has a U.S. release date of April 16 (pre-order here).
The reunited emo-punk standouts said in a Tumblr post they found the image on the Internet and identified with the way it brings together old and new. Photographer Roger Stonehouse snapped the original picture in Myanmar. "We came across the punk and monk image on the Internet and it really solidified what we were trying to get across on the record— the idea of old and new clashing," the band wrote. "Tradition and change coming together. There was something striking about it."
They continued: "Obviously this is an image that means a lot to many people — we felt like we wanted to be part of this conversation. These kids represent the youth, change, and irreverence that we hope our record is listened to with. At the end of the day we just want to take the rules and start all over with Save Rock and Roll anyway."
The album cover art is notably different from the original photo in at least one way. In Stonehouse's shot, the boy's black T-shirt actually turns out to contain the cover art from AC/DC's 2008 album Black Ice. Still, while the symbolism of an album titled Save Rock and Roll Photoshopping out AC-freaking-DC isn't ideal, it's easy to imagine there would've been copyright concerns in using the untouched photo — not to mention the glaring design flaw of having a huge AC/DC logo right behind the cover text. ("It's a copyright issue with the AC/DC shirt," Fall Out Boy's publicist confirms.)
Elsewhere, the blog Pop Culture and the Third World points out the cover art's use of Third World imagery recalls Beyoncé's "Run the World (Girls)" video, from 2011's 4. At the time, an essayist on Racialicious argued that people in the "global north" need to collaborate more genuinely (and remuneratively) with the "global south." It's a complicated but important discussion, and with the Save Rock and Roll cover art, Fall Out Boy boldly — and artfully — enter into it.