CD Review: Fall Out Boy delivers year's best to date

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-117269515131209.jpg’, ‘Image courtesy of www.amazon.com‘, ”);
StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-117269519813642.jpg’, ‘Photo courtesy of www.myspace.com/falloutboy‘, ‘When Fall Out Boy’s latest effort, Infinity on High, hit record store shelves earlier this month, it did so with a fanfare usually reserved only for high-profile pop acts. It came as no real surprise, then, when Infinity debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Album Chart.‘);

A lot has changed for Fall Out Boy in the last three years. Three years ago, the quartet was primarily only a force within the Chicago suburbs scene where they lived. Since then, major label success—to the tune of 3 million copies sold of their Island Records debut From Under the Cork Tree, countless magazine covers and a rabid global fan base—has catapulted them from “the little punk band that could” to the biggest punk band on the planet.

When their latest effort, Infinity on High, hit record store shelves earlier this month, it did so with a fanfare usually reserved only for high-profile pop acts. It came as no real surprise, then, when Infinity debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Album Chart. But Fall Out Boy’s chart-topper status has as much to do with substance as it does style. Make no mistake, the band’s members Patrick Stump (vocals), Pete Wentz (bass), Joe Trohman (guitar) and Andy Hurley (drums) each have their own unique flair, but Infinity is as good as it is glitzy.

The album’s first track, “Thriller,” is a not-so-subtle reference to the Michael Jackson hit of the same name. The track begins quietly, almost in a somber fashion, with a melodic guitar sequence. It quickly explodes into a heavy and high-speed dual guitar-powered riff that feels so booming and enormous that one can’t help but fear for the safety of their stereo speakers.

It is that track that sets the tone for an album that is bigger and better than anything FOB has produced to date. The 14-track juggernaut is easily the best album of the young new year, and is ripe with highlights.

The first single, “This Ain’t a Scene—It’s an Arms Race,” is an R&B-infused number that would inspire as many Chicago dance clubbers as it would VFW hall slam dancers. “Thnks fr th Mmrs,” a track apparently not requiring vowels, is a straight-forward rock song made unique by a stirring string sound. “The Carpal Tunnel of Love” is a throwback to Fall Out Boy’s hardcore roots, with a feverishly-paced, scream-laden chugging breakdown that will likely leave any attempting a sing-along with frazzled vocal chords…even the most enthusiastic of karaoke singers should think twice about attempting it.

But for the diversity of sounds on Infinity, ultimately it is Wentz’s lyrics and the way Stump belts them out that makes it brilliant. After the success of Cork Tree, and the aforementioned media spotlight that came along with it, Wentz has shown pronounced growth as a songwriter.

Once focused on self-reflective narratives about secrets and broken hearts, he has continued his propensity for a modest kind of narcissism, but with a blossoming flair for storytelling and a knack for identifying the shallowness that comes with stardom.

For his part, Stump seems to have taken nicely to the new material. Once disguised by speedy chords and melodies, his voice, now more expressive and deliberate than ever before, becomes an instrument all to itself. It is a soulful side not seen on earlier efforts, and one serving to say the band refuses to adhere to critic-imposed labels.

For a band that is as much hated as it is loved, Infinity on High not only further affirms Fall Out Boy’s status as a global musical superpower, but also serves as an overwhelming declaration that the band can no longer be contained by the walls of the punk nation. One thing is certainly true: it is a release that is so inspired and different from their punk peers that it seems to say they have left behind the scene they created.

And though critics may say otherwise, that’s not selling out…it’s just growing up.

From the Feb. 28-March 6, 2007, issue

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!