11 February 2007

Fall Out Boy / Infinity on High / Island Records [2007]

Fall Out Boy just do it bigger. A composite of direct influences are glaring, even co-opting sentiments from similarly self-referential bands. Plagarising UK sensation Arctic Monkey on one-liners, the band even takes pages from their proteges Panic! at the Disco when the movie Closer provides the horrid chorus to "Thnks Fr Th Mmrs". Where Panic! had a wedding, FOB co-opt a courtroom on "You're Crashing, but You're No Wave", their first foray into narrative storytelling.

Singer Patrick Stump sounds pitch-perfect and almost diva-like, recalling the reign of boy bands. What the album lacks in originality it makes up for in super-slick production and overblown anthems ála the album's first single "This Ain't A Scene..." in which a weak metaphor rides a processed drum machine to the "Goddamn!" chorus.

To follow is nauseatingly hyper mall-punk with the occasional unoriginal flourish seen in borrowing Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" chant in the band's own "Hum Hallelujah". Fall Out Boy take their Ridalin only for one song and the result is the cliché-ridden "Golden", where lyricist/bassist Wentz's ego cannot be contained by swelling strings and weepy harmonies. Stump sings, "And all the mothers raise their babies to stay away from me," but the vapid self-importance is textbook Wentz. The song's greatest strength is that it is under three minutes long.

Bigger budgets and studio processing don't cover trite repetition but create a golden goose, ready to lay egg after egg of radio-ready bombast. Song titles are reminiscent of an unrefined Morrissey and are perfect for this week's MySpace name or to be scribbled on a teenage notebook. On the tacky "I'm Like A Lawyer With the Way I'm Always Trying to Get You Off" verses of melodrama and a repetitive chorus scream second single.

Although far beyond the status of guilty pleasure for any self respecting music fan, it's hard to argue the band hasn't hit a gold mine. Anthemic hooks and keen self-awareness set Fall Out Boy up for not only the biggest album of their young career, but the widest reaching, most marketable record of the year. The forecast calls for overexposure and platinum records.

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