Review Summary: "We will never believe again..."
Just when Fall Out Boy began to make a splash in the mainstream, I can recall one day hearing a tune on the radio where the singer sounded like he had marbles in his mouth. Before I could switch stations to escape the mess, a chorus section with slightly more understandable lyrics met my ears, and I shrugged in approval. At first, I didn’t think much of the song really: it was just another catchy punk band whose single might chart if they were lucky. However, I awoke the next day with “Sugar, We’re Goin Down” in my head, and for better or for worse, the infectious tune would not go away. Within the following months, I watched a band rise to momentous popularity, or rather, momentous infamy.
Four years has passed since the band’s splash in the mainstream, and excluding a few instances, the band has been able to consistently deliver catchy, successful singles. Well it turns out the band are now on break, and since their future is currently uncertain, a greatest hits compilation has been assembled as a segue or possible closer to the band’s headlining career. Believers Never Die: Greatest Hits
collects singles from pre-explosion Take This to Your Grave
to last year’s Folie a Deux
and doesn’t really throw any surprises as far as the track listing goes for these inclusions. The singles are taken almost in perfect order –though online singles, “The Carpel Tunnel of Love” and “Headfirst Slide into Cooperstown on a Bad Bet”, happen to be missing –and the two new tracks that the band has offered listeners are simply placed at the end of this compilation.
So how is one to access this collection of hits? Well, very carefully to be honest. While Fall Out Boy has never failed to deliver catchy, cleverly-written pop punk anthems, they have always seemed to change in sound from album to album. A listen to the first three tracks that are taken from Take This To Your Grave
will show a straightforward punk pop sound that harbors its hooks a little bit more subtly than those to be found on the band’s albums that followed. The famous inclusions from the band’s breakthrough album, From Under Cork Tree
, are still as catchy and as infectious as ever; whether they retain any freshness, however, wholly depends on how much listeners have heard the tracks up until now. As likely as the case may be, most have probably heard them too many times. “Dance Dance” is still as driving as ever though; it is a rare case where the verse hook is more prominent then the chorus, and the main riff of “Sugar, We’re Goin Down” is likely to bring a nostalgic smile to many-a-face.
Infinity On High
and Folie a Deux
were much more pop-oriented in sound. “This Ain’t A Scene, It’s An Arms Race” contains a homerun of a chorus that hasn’t aged particularly well to be honest; still, the song’s lyrics are quite clever, having to deal with the music genre and “scene” of the band. “Thnks Fr Th Mmrs” is the band at its best, songwriting-wise. The song is a knock-out of a track, and its popularity as a single really comes as no surprise at all. The inclusions from the band’s last album are slightly more subtle than those from Infinity On High
. “American Suithearts” is a great example of a verse-chorus structure that just doesn’t flow very well together. While the chorus is infectious and among Fall Out Boy’s best, the awkward and slowly-paced verses seem to throw everything off and possibly demonstrate why this single probably wasn’t so successful on the charts. “What A Catch, Donnie” is the perfect way to close off this collection, as it features a bridge section that replays parts from the band’s hit singles. Its really a suiting and almost moving finale.
I couldn’t end this review without mentioning the two new songs that can be found on this compilation. “Alpha Dog” plays like a Folie a Deux
b-side, albeit a good one at that, and features Patrick’s voice at its best with many variations in tone that can be heard along the way. The chorus hook is somewhat predictable, and the decision for the song to be the compilation’s single is somewhat questionable. For what it’s worth, “From Now On We Are Enemies” would have been a much better pick. The song is infectious, presenting listeners with an addictive double-chorus slam; it should also be noted that this track fairly encompasses the whole of Fall Out Boy’s sound throughout their career, equally borrowing influences from each other the four albums represented here.
Believers Never Die: Greatest Hits
represents the best of Fall Out Boy’s career sufficiently, if not lazily. The collection all but takes the hits from the band’s last four releases, assembles them in a row, and adds two new cuts to cap it all off. It may have been wiser to switch up the track listing a bit as the large difference between the sound of the band’s albums makes for a rather rough experience when listened to all the way through. What’s more, the two online singles that were omitted from this collection would have helped round things off a little bit, and the songs happen to be rather good cuts as well. That being said, the compilation gets the song done and does a fairly good job at presenting listeners with the most popular of Fall Out Boy, if not exactly the best.