March 29, 2007

Hard Time Breaking the Mold

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Fall Out Boy’s latest album, Infinity on High, fails to live up to the band’s previous release, From Under the Cork Tree. It lacks the catchy songs like “Sugar, We’re Goin’ Down” that have previously led to the band’s popularity. Instead, Fall Out Boy tries to reinvent itself on the newest album. The band maintains its whiney pop-punk vocals and its lengthy song titles, but otherwise, the album sounds nothing like what one would expect from Fall Out Boy.

“Hum Hallelujah” is one of the few tracks that fits the mold of a Fall Out Boy song, at least until halfway through. It sounds like a perfect single to follow up their previous radio hits until you reach the “Hallelujah” chanting in the middle. The chanting seems forced and unnecessary and seems like something that would be left out of live performances anyway. Without this section, the band could have had a much stronger, radio-friendly song.

The album also has ballads like “Golden,” which seem unnecessary for a Fall Out Boy album. Their fans expect a catchy, upbeat sound, not melancholy songs with lyrics like “How cruel is the golden rule/ When the lives we lived are only golden plated.”

While songs like “Golden” do illustrate the band’s musical development, they also seem to distance the band from the sound that led to its popularity.

The first single off of the album, “This Ain’t A Scene, It’s An Arms Race,” is catchy but, like most of Infinity on High, doesn’t fit the band’s usual sound. The vocals and chorus aren’t as rough as those of their previous singles and make the band sound like they’re trying to be something they’re not — specifically, this song has a pop sound that is uncharacteristic of the band.

This pop sound is especially surprising in comparison to later songs on the album. “The Carpal Tunnel of Love” shifts to a completely different musical genre, featuring a section of screaming in place of singing. The contrast between these two songs illustrates the main problem with Fall Out Boy’s latest release. The band seems to be trying to do too much with this album and seems unsure of the direction in which it wants to go. By trying a little bit of everything, the band simply seems to be trying too hard and is only successful at making a bad album.

“Thnks fr th Mmrs” is the latest single off of Infinity on High, and it is one of the few songs on the album that actually sounds like a Fall Out Boy song. It is catchy and upbeat, and it isn’t an attempt at reinventing the band. The song boasts straightforward lyrics about a one night stand (“One night and one more time/ Thanks for the memories/ Even though they weren’t so great”), but the band transforms this into a fun, dance-able song reminiscent of their past hits.

Despite Fall Out Boy’s musical identity crisis on Infinity on High, the album has been a huge commercial success, remaining in the top ten on the US Billboard 200 chart for the first six weeks after its release.