Why is it that all emo pop/punk bands feel the need to have the same singer? I’m serious. It sounds to me as though they all try to emulate one another, with strained, nasally voices bemoaning lost love.
Fall Out Boy’s second full-length album is dripping with generic, over-produced emo pop. This is really very unfortunate, as the album looks anything but. A quick glance over the track listings makes me want to shake these boys by the hand and congratulate them on beating the big labels at their own game.
The disc opens with “Our Lawyer made us Change the Name of this song so we Wouldn’t Get Sued,” following up with such intriguing titles as “I’ve got a Dark Alley and a Bad Idea That Says You Should Shut Your Mouth (Summer Song),” “Champagne for My Real Friends, Real Pain for My Sham Friends,” and my personal favourite, “I Slept With Someone in Fall Out Boy and All I Got was This Stupid Song Written About Me.”
Finally, something a little different.
Blink 182 once described their own music as not punk at all, but more like Playskool’s “My First Punk Band.”
Fallout Boy pulled the same maneuver. They are willing—in fact, eager, to make fun of themselves. Therefore, I was eager to give them a listen.
As if anticipating criticism, “Our Lawyer…” opens the disc with ironic comments about the overly-trendy, soon-to-be-tired genre of emo pop/punk (or whatever combination of those three terms you’d like to use). It’s as if Fall Out Boy put all the bitterness they developed in their quest for a record deal into this one song. “We’re only good for the latest trend/ we’re only good so you can have almost famous friends/ Besides we’ve got such good fashion sense.”
The song’s good for a chuckle, but the funniest part about the song is that it sounds just like every other pop/punk/emo tune I’ve ever heard. Now that’s irony.
Maybe that was the joke.
Unfortunately, the album keeps up in the same vein. It’s catchy and upbeat, and the band is tight. Fall Out Boy is hugely popular amongst teenagers, and drew large crowds at this summer’s Warped Tour. However, the music lacks the depth that the liner notes and track listing promises.
Despite my cynicism, “Under the Cork Tree” has some highlights. “Dance, Dance” is the standout track on the album, with a chilling chorus reflecting the singer’s misery (at, what else, but lost love). The lyrics are nothing short of poetic, and worth a read on their own. “Nobody Puts Baby in the Corner” made me stop and listen, and then pick up the liner notes. The tune is a dime a dozen, but the lyrics show poetic undertones written by a truly tortured romantic. (“I’ll be your best kept secret and your biggest mistake/ (the hand behind this pen relives a failure each day). So wear me like a locket around your throat/I’ll weight you down I’ll watch you choke/You look so good in blue.”)
These boys have everything right, except the actual music. It just strikes me as strange that they try so hard to be something different, then sound just like every other band of their kind coming out nowadays. If I were a sixteen-year-old experiencing unrequited love, this album may be my mantra. Unfortunately, I feel like I’ve heard it all before, and this made-for-MTV bubblegum punk just doesn’t quite cut it anymore.