Review Summary: Fall Out Boy goes for the dreaded slightly more "mature" approach with this album, incorporating many more influences than in their previous efforts (most notably hip-hop). The result is a very catchy punk album with a pop sensibility that just won't quit
The hype surrounding this album just before its release was almost unbelievable. With the mega-success of From Under The Cork Tree
, Fall Out Boy were under a lot of pressure to make a new album that would live up to everyone's expectations. Infinity On High
(mostly) does that.
From the opening track, you can tell that Fall Out Boy has incorporated a lot more influences into this release. "Thriller" starts out with a cameo from none other than Jay-Z, and then comes into full swing with some rare double bass from Andy Hurley. It is one of the stronger tracks on the album, and the lyrical content shows Wentz poking fun at Fall Out Boy in general, as Stump sings "Last summer we took threes across the board/But by fall we were a cover story now in stores."
Throughout this entire album, you can tell that it is very different than any of their previous releases. Some of the changes are more apparent--the straight piano-ballad "Golden" and the strange swing-influenced song "I've Got All This Ringing In My Ears And None On My Fingers" are good examples. These tracks can cause casual fans to do a double take, but they really showcase Fall Out Boy's growth as a band. With this album, they have managed to do exactly what they wanted--staying true to their roots while incorporating many of their new experiences and tastes into the mix.
Tracks such as "Hum Hallelujah" and "Thnks Fr Th Mmrs" are typical Fall Out Boy. Pop punk with a satirical twist, singing about broken hearts and bittersweet memories. Wentz's lyrics are as witty and clever as ever on this album, and they are sure to be on the MySpace headlines of scenesters for years to come.
The guitars are pretty generic as well, not a whole lot of variation to be found. But then again, Fall Out Boy has never been a band that tries to put their instrumentalists into the spotlight. This album shines mostly because of Patrick Stump's much-improved vocal talents. Gone (mostly) are the whiny, nasally moments of From Under The Cork Tree
, replaced by a voice with surprising range and instant infectiousness. Lead single "This Ain't A Scene, It's An Arms Race" is a good example of the catchiness of the entire album. The chant-along chorus is poppy and well-sung, and the techno undercurrent is noticeable without being too much of a deviation from normal TRL-material.
The personal highlight of this album in my opinion would have to be "You're Crashing, But You're No Wave." The lyrics set up a perfect tale of a courtroom scene, and the choir vocals added near the end actually serve to add a sense of epic-ness to a Fall Out Boy song, if such a thing is even possible. It's a great song, but it's a shame it wasn't placed earlier on the album.
That is one of the flaws that can be found here. Fall Out Boy's latest album can be a tad bit draggy. It has fourteen tracks, and although they're short, it leaves room for error...filler tracks such as "Don't You Know Who I Think I Am"" and the aforementioned ballad "Golden" feel out of place or like they belong on a b-sides compilation, and kind of break up the momentum that is built by the first half of the album.
Other tracks such as "The (After) Life Of The Party" and "The Carpal Tunnel Of Love" seem to have the strangest vocal interludes. Wentz's screaming in the latter is definitely unexpected and kind of brings the song down as a result. But, these flaws are few and far between, and can be easily overlooked when you examine the album as a whole. Infinity On High
is one of those albums that you can listen to all the way through. This isn't to say that you will necessarily enjoy one track as much as the last, and some tracks definitely outshine the others. But there are no "horrible" tracks, and despite the odd placement of some songs, the album flows well together.
To sum everything up, Fall Out Boy managed to make the album that (for better or worse) will define their career. Every influence since the band's inception has accurate representation here, and the combination of Stump's soaring voice and Wentz's satirical lyrics should definitely cause you to crack a smile at some point while listening to this album. While Infinity On High
as a whole isn't really a strong enough album to gain Fall Out Boy a whole bunch of new fans, old and recent fans alike should be more than satisfied with this present material. Each track has enough differences to make it distinguishable from the rest of the album, and the choruses of these songs will not escape your head for days.
Cries of "sell-out" will still echo from all the old fans who feel that Fall Out Boy's credit and popularity is undeserved, but luckily they still have enough poise about them to take all the criticism in stride, and continue to grow as a result. After all, as Jay-Z says, "Yeah, what you critics said would never happen/We dedicate this album to anybody, people said couldn't make it/To the fans that held us down till everybody came around/Welcome/It's here."
"You're Crashing, But You're No Wave"
"The Take Over, The Break's Over"
"This Ain't A Scene, It's An Arms Race"