In Three Songs: Fall Out Boy
In order for you to fully understand why I’ve chosen to write about Fall Out Boy- as a twenty-year-old woman who doesn’t smoke anymore and has, for all intents and purposes, grown out of her scene kid phase- I have to tell you about Lego Racers. Lego Racers is a crappy video game from many years ago wherein you could build a vehicle comprised of Lego pieces and race it around a number of themed tracks, featuring pirates, aliens, and various other creatures of note. A kind of proto-Mario Kart with sillier sound effects and an oddly hypnotic quality, it dominated my life when I was a kid, and then I forgot about it for many years. Then my brother downloaded it when I was in my early teens, and it became the route through which I got into new music. My brother-from whom I inherited a vast number of my musical preferences- would play me at endless rounds of Lego Racers while he showed me a CD from whatever new band he’d gotten into that week. Amongst them were stacks of indie insta-classics-Muse, Yellowcard, Joy Division, and, most importantly, Fall Out Boy. The very first song I heard from them was Thriller, the first track of their fourth album Infinity on High, and I fell in love with them at first listen. So you have my brother (who swiftly moved on to the dizzy heights of Blink 182 and Green Day) to thank for a lifelong obsession with the guardian angels of the hipster-rock trend, and, more specifically, for this article. Shall we begin?
1. Disloyal Order of Water Buffaloes
This track is the opener off Fall Out Boy’s superb fifth album, Folie A Deux, their final outing before their hiatus. It’s a belter of a tune; embracing with gusto their predilection for the overblown and the histrionic, and letting Patrick Stump’s magnificent voice roam free for the first time. Self-aware (“nobody wants to hear you sing about tragedy”), catchy, and comfortably filling the four-minute runtime, this a searing bit of pop-punk. There’s an enthusiastically tragic feel to this number, as if they well knew this was their last gasp at real attention after This Ain’t a Scene and Dance, Dance, and probably the best song on a truly sterling album. You can be as snooty as you want about Fall Out Boy, but this is a cracking tune.
2. You’re Crashing But You’re No Wave
In a scrappy, all-over-the-place fourth album, You’re Crashing is a stand out. One of the main problems with Fall Out Boy is their tendency to write lyrics that sound good if you take them on a line-by-line basis,but make no sense when you string them together as a whole. This track hangs together in a way few others do, with clever, witty one-liners matched with an energetic, hectic, and enthralling guitar-heavy instrumental section. One of the most outrightly rock-orientated songs they’ve ever pulled off, this should have been a single but never was.
3. I’ve Got A Bad Idea and a Dark Alley that Says You Should Shut Your Mouth (Summer Song)
Can we all agree that those stupidly long song titles just aren’t called for? Yes? Good. For Fall Out Boy, this is a surprisingly vulnerable song (“we can fake it for the airwaves/force a smile, baby, half-dance/I’m comparing myself to everyone else around me”) packed with lines that reflect the state of their fame, their status as a band, and the effect success, and a lack of it, had on their togetherness as a group. Patrick Stump rules this track, with a varied and vital vocal line, and has a bunch of help from the surprisingly intricate guitar work from Joe Trohman (my FOB crush). Bang in the middle of breakthrough album From Under the Cork Tree, Summer Song is a brilliant, sparkling, angsty subscription to everything the band would become known for.