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Fall Out Boy

+ {Patrick Stump}

Brash, bombastic and a band that had more sing-a-long anthems at their disposable than one could shake a sharp stick at, emo punk-poppers FALL OUT BOY are the choice combo for anyone under a certain age and unaware there’s anything else out there. Nothing in common with the punk scene of any generation, these post-millennium “rockers” have more in common with funky boys MAROON 5 than punk. With a knack for epigrammatic titles (example `Our Lawyer Made Us Change The Name Of This Song So We Wouldn’t Get Sued’), FOB are in fact, quite simplistic in their song structure.
Formed in 2001 in Wilmette, Illinois, a suburb around 15 miles north of Chicago, Patrick Stump (vocals/guitar), main lyricist Pete Wentz (bass), Joe Trohman (guitar) and early members, Mike Pariskuwicz (drums) and T.J. Racine (guitar), were found coalescing around the metropolitan centre of Chicago and its famous/infamous hardcore scene; FOB became radio-active (or indeed radio-friendly) in ‘02 via the release of a split EP with Project Rocket. A year later, they’d prise drummer Andrew Hurley from said group (and other “split” act, The Kill Pill) to join their own ranks. Meanwhile, the original FOB delivered the convoluted mini set, FALL OUT BOY’S EVENING OUT WITH YOUR GIRLFRIEND (2003) {*6}, their second release for California’s Uprising Records. Giving an `Honorable Mention’ (or nod) to Almost Famous actor, John Cusack, and others including `Parker Lewis Can’t Lose (But I’m Gonna Give It My Best Shot)’, it was a tidy for emo’s next big thing.
Signed to Gainesville, Florida imprint, Fueled By Ramen (owned by LESS THAN JAKE’s Vinnie Fiorello’s), things looked on the up for the quirky quartet. Despite the quartet’s punk-o-rama plea, debut album proper TAKE THIS TO YOUR GRAVE (2003) {*6} was basically a dozen shallow songs for the must-view-it MTV generation; still, there were great titles in `Reinventing The Wheel To Run Myself Over’, `Sending Postcards From A Plane Crash (Wish You Were Here)’ and the critics’ fave rave, `The Pros And Cons Of Breathing’. It’s difficult to imagine anyone but GOOD CHARLOTTE or BUSTED fans requesting this sub-GREEN DAY whining and carping. Love them or hate them, however, the album eventually achieved gold-status and attracted the attentions of Island Records.
The regulation mental health problems dogged the band as bass player Wentz survived an overdose of Ativan in early 2005. FOB bounced back with the Neal Avron-produced Top 10 sophomore set, FROM UNDER THE CORK TREE (2005) {*7}, an album for spiky-haired happy people on skateboards rushing through a crowded mall full of OAP’s waving their fists in anger – there, that song title’s free. Unlike the bulk of the album’s ham-fisted songs, singles `Dance, Dance’ and `Sugar, We’re Goin Down’ were easier on the tongue, the ear and the charts. Maybe through cover versions such as `Love Will Tear Us Apart’ (JOY DIVISION), `So Sick’ (NE-YO) and `Roxanne’ (The POLICE), they could express their true punk-pop identity.
2007’s INFINITY ON HIGH {*6} scaled the album charts in its first week of release (Top 3 in Britain), and it seemed that these 30-somethings were passing off as rock music’s new pop pretenders (or vice versa!). What the kids saw in massive hits, `This Ain’t A Scene, It’s An Arm Race’ and `Thnks Fr Th Mmrs’, was anybody’s guess, but wait… there was a decent ballad in `Golden’. Nice.
On the back of a concert set, LIVE IN PHOENIX (2008) {*5}, highlighting a cover of MICHAEL JACKSON’s `Beat It’, next to their own brand hits, the squeaky Stump and Co delivered album number five, FOLIE A DEUX (2008) {*6}. Augmented by a stellar cast of guests including DEBORAH HARRY, LIL WAYNE and Brendon Urie, the main man’s fixation with ELVIS COSTELLO was never more evident than on `I Don’t Care’, `Headfirst Slide Into Cooperstown On A Bad Bet’ and `What A Catch, Donnie’ (the latter song featured the Attractions leader).
One of the busiest bands in the biz, all four guys took time to reflect on their future; Wentz formed his own Black Cards (alongside unknown vocalist, Bebe Rexha), while Joe and Andy helped form post-hardcore supergroup, The Damned Things (with members of ANTHRAX and EVERY DAY I DIE); meanwhile, PATRICK STUMP took the obvious R&B route to minor success with his solo SOUL PUNK (2011) {*6} album. Described as JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE meets PRINCE meets The KILLERS, pop is the word for the likes of `This City’, etc.
Almost thankful of a fresh FALL OUT BOY record, SAVE ROCK AND ROLL {*6} was another set reliant on big name stars to pull it all through. Extra money in the kitty for ELTON JOHN, COURTNEY LOVE, Big Sean and Foxes, secured a big chart-topping pay off for all concerned, although the boom-tastic `The Phoenix’, the LADY GAGA-esque `My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light Em Up)’ and `Alone Together’, held it together. Needless to say the tenuous FALL OUT BOY “Save Rock And Roll” title was somewhat off the mark.
What’s the difference between “souper-gloop” McBUSTED and the brainwashing Sell Out Boy(s)? Nothing, except a Big Pond and little minds. Harsh but true to anyone who could think outside the box of tricks used to seduce teens into buying into their musical pyramid scheme. Yes, FALL OUT BOY were again atop of the album charts. With glam battle cries snatched from the heart of celluloid pop culture (`Uma Thurman’ even extracting The Munsters theme! and the GREEN DAY-meets-MOTLEY CRUE-sampled title track), AMERICAN BEAUTY / AMERICAN PSYCHO (2015) {*5} was as schizoid as the set suggested. Not catchy enough? Why not throw in a stitch-up of SUZANNE VEGA’s `Tom’s Diner’ (re: Lolo) for big hitter `Centuries’, or percolating a smorgasbord of Disney-like ideas from past pop. This was half-an-hour played three times that one’ll never get back. `The Kids Aren’t Alright’ – indeed.
© MC Strong 2004-2006/GRD / rev-up MCS Apr2013-Jan2015

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