“Clap if you got a ticket to the end of the world!” Patrick Stump proclaims repeatedly throughout his latest solo release, “Explode.” It’s unlikely that Stump is literally predicting the end of times—though hey, that might be coming sooner than you’d think—but something of significance is certainly weighing on the mind of the one-time Fall Out Boy lead singer throughout the song, as he raves like a man on the verge of a nervous breakdown over an exceedingly flammable-sounding beat.
“Explode” is built around an old-fashioned lyrical framing device, as Stump tells the not-so-subtly-metaphorical story of a Bomb Squad specialist (“A living, breathing action screenplay cliché”) undergoing great stress both at home (“His last day on the force / He was going through divorce”) and in the office (“Cut the red wire / Or was that the green wire?”), before launching in with his own chorus interjection of “I FEEL LIKE I’M GONNA EXPLODE!!” It’s a little corny, but it gets the job done, and Stump’s anxieties sound disarmingly legitimate as he yells “I can’t stand it / I get so worried!” It’s hard to say exactly what it is that’s stressing him so, though the “If I’m never your hero / I can never let you down” explanation on the chorus points toward Stump maybe feeling trapped in the pressures of a relationship. (If that’s it, is it really worth the drama, though? Perhaps.)
Anyway, Stump is helped out by a beat that matches the nerviness of the lyrics, with a stop-start rhythm, a lot of tense hand-clapping, and a chopped up white-noise hook that only really releases on the song’s chorus (which, apropos of nothing in particular, ends up sounding a lot like T.I.’s “What You Know“). The whole thing isn’t as strangely seductive as Stump’s similarly idiosyncratic “Cute Girls,” but if you have a high tolerance for musical melodrama—or you just need an anthem of frustration to help get you through rush-hour traffic—it’s worth at least a couple of listens.