Fall Out Boy, Infinity on High
Island Records, 2007
I might make a lot of teenage girls angry with this review. On the other hand, if one teenage boy is able to get a date without having to pretend to like Fall Out Boy, it’s worth it.
Here’s the thing: they’re just a band. From what I hear on Infinity on High, a pretty good band, even. Pete Wentz’s hopelessly emo lyrics are rocked up considerably by complex, stylish arrangements and just barely too much thrash guitar for my taste, but I won’t be picky there. Patrick Stump’s singing is extremely skilled, but sounds very sanitized; I don’t know if that’s just his voice or if the album’s been too heavily polished, but he sounds like the guy from Maroon 5.
Some of the music is downright majestic, suggesting grand themes but not really delivering. It comes closest on the last song, “I’ve Got All This Ringing in My Ears and None on My Fingers,” simply because the line “The truth hurts worse than anything I could bring myself to do to you” and its accompanying music sounds like the end of an album. It’s most disappointing on “Hum Hallelujah,” where the boys feel the need to reference Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” for the eleventy billionth time in music history. Everyone, Jeff Buckley already covered it and then drowned in a river; it’s never getting any more bittersweet.
The first track opens with a bizarre little intro by Jay-Z, basically sticking the band’s tongue out at its critics and lavishing love on its fans. That kind of stuff is fine for liner notes, but you think maybe all us new listeners who didn’t realize before how totally awesome you were might be a little turned off by that? The band even acknowledges how poseur a lot of music snobs are with the album’s single, “This Ain’t a Scene, It’s an Arms Race.” Does that make it better or worse? I don’t know.
A line from track 12, “Fame < Infamy,” says it best: “The kid was all right but it went to his head.” B- — John “jaQ” Andrews