Review Summary: Bland, uninspired, repetetive and not as smart as it thinks it is, while it may be perfect for radio this should not have made Fall Out Boy Huge.
I bought From Under the Cork Tree on a whim, before I'd even heard of Fall Out Boy, due to what I reckon is still one of the greatest song titles ever, Our Lawyer Made us Change the Name of This Song So We Wouldn't Get Sued. As soon a I got home however, I realised it was an ever so slight waste of money, and about half way in I relegated it to the shelf to gather dust. Imagine my surprise then, when a short while I see Fall Out Boy on magazine covers all over the place and Sugar We're Going Down all over MTV. Just what exactly got them so big?
Lets start with the good things. The song names are witty and pretty clever (Champange for my Real Friends, Real Pain for my Sham Friends). Some of the chorus melodies are quite catchy, and there are some vaugely interesting guitar parts.
Now onto the bad. As with so much in the music scene right now, Fall out Boy seem content to play it perfectly safe, and as a result there is nothing remarkable about the album. The singles are obvious radio fare, and the fillers (which constitutes just about everything else) are bland and unimpressive. There are no moments in the album which really make the listener sit up and take notice.
This might be forgivable if the band had presence, but this is sadly lacking on record and as their Carling festival performance proved this year is also lacking on stage. There is a reason why no one knows who Patrick Stump is and it's this. Despite being a great singer, he just cant front a band. His voice is bland and identikit. Sure he can hit all the notes, but i'd much rather listen to Tim Armstrong go out of key than Stump hit every note without an ounce of charisma. None of the rest of the band really stand out either, apart from Paul Weitz's truly appaling attempts at screming towards the end of the album.
And as it is with the band, so it is with the songs. Every single one, without fail, is a power chord led essay in radio friendly background music. The harmonies are the same pretty much throughout, and the melodies are uninventive and unoriginal, and even sometimes repeated within the album itself. Just listen to My Chemical Romance's Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge and Panic at the Disco to see how little inspiration there is. Also, The songs lack passion and point. When they aren't singing about themselvs and how bad they are, they are singing about sex, and there is little you can really get pumped up about here.
Lyrics too are a problem. Sugar We're Going Down is a perfect example of this, with 'loaded god complex. cock it and pull it,' really not as clever as Weitz and co probably think it is. Also, in the intro track, great title aside, its hard not to take their sarcastic adivise to 'put this record down.' They may be joking, but i feel the joke is probably on those of us who paid money for this. And when they do seem to try and take something seriously, it's just cliched and they repeat it within the song even, with 'this has been said so many times before, that i'm not even sure if it matters.'
So, if someone give me a reason why Fall out Boy made it big other than they provide bland, unchallenging music perfect for radio airplay and grumpy teenagers, i'll be surprised, because there is almost nothing of note on this CD other than the names on the back cover.