Come February and March, Fall Out Boy will return to Australia for the first time since their Soundwave 2015 appearance, being armed with their hopefully not shit new record, ‘Mania’. Now, that new album was pushed back from it’s original September release to that of January 2018. Which could mean any number of things; from being a manufacturing or production fuck up being caught a little too late, to the band maybe seeing reason and just not being happy with the new ideas and sounds they’ve injected their much-loved rock sound with. Whatever the case may be, in the lead up to not only their seventh album but also to their forthcoming headline tour, we’re taking a good hard look at FOB’s previous six records; from ‘Take This To Your Grave’ right up to ‘American Beauty/American Psycho’.
So, let’s start right at the beginning…
‘Take This To Your Grave’ (2003)
Words: Owen Morawitz
“Their first album is definitely the best album,” is something I often hear people utter with reference to Fall Out Boy. And considering how rock solid ‘Take This To Your Grave’ actually is, it’s a more than fair call. But it’s also wrong, for two important reasons: 1) if we’re being nit-picky bastards, Fall Out Boy’s first album is actually the often maligned, rough-around-the-edges mini-LP release, ‘Fall Out Boy’s Evening Out with Your Girlfriend’; and 2) the follow-up, ‘From Under The Cork Tree’ is the far superior album, purely in terms of musicianship, songwriting, lyrics, thematic tone – the whole shebang! What ‘Take This To Your Grave’ really has going for it is youthful exuberance and a hefty dose of nostalgia. It’s a bonafide pop-punk classic, and it was also the scene’s first taste of the now iconic, complete Fall Out Boy lineup: Patrick Stump’s soulful croon, Andy Hurley’s tight percussive backbone, Joe Trohman’s melodic guitar flourishes; and bassist Pete Wentz’s withering, devilishly self-deprecating lyricism. It’s an unbeatable combination, and one that ultimately propelled the band forward to superstardom; but never forget that it all started here, with dead-set bangers like ‘Dead on Arrival,’ ‘Grand Theft Autumn/Where Is Your Boy,’ ‘Homesick at Space Camp’, ‘Saturday‘, and of course, ‘Grenade Jumper’.
‘From Under The Cork Tree’ (2005)
Words: Peyton Bernhardt
C’mon, let’s face it pals: ‘From Under the Cork Tree‘ is objectively the one and only Fall Out Boy album that matters. It’s a lavish time capsule of pop culture if you point to its song title references alone and it’s purer and more honest than mainstream pop-rock of ‘Infinity On High‘ yet also somehow catchier than ‘Take This to Your Grave‘. If you’re ever feeling fed up with the EDM-scape of modern music and 2018 gets too overwhelming, then this record will instantly transport you back to a simpler time – 2005. Back when songs about Molly Ringwald weren’t embarrassing, when song titles were 17 words long, the same year that Panic! At The Disco released their debut full-length and Brendon Urie and Pete Wentz were two of the key figures that our overall music scene wanted and needed. This album is so good that it’s too good, so good that no Fall Out Boy record that has come after has ever measured up. It’s the reason that comment sections will forever say “I miss the old Fall Out Boy”, tragically exaggerating hate for the band’s musical changes and progress.
After all, greatness comes with consequences.
‘Infinity On High’ (2007)
Words: Matty Sievers
I remember the day a close family friend handed off a copy of Fall Out Boy’s ‘Infinity on High’ to me and my older brother about ten years ago. I was nine and he was twelve [fuck, that feels just like yesterday – Alex]. We were dragged along by our mum whenever she went out as we were too young to stay home alone so we got a chance to put that CD on in the car that afternoon. Hearing the Jay-Z/clean-guitar intro opening of ‘Thriller’ and into its pounding verse was, for my nine-year-old brain at least, utterly mesmerising. That was the first time I ever heard anything resembling close to a breakdown. And I thought it was one of the greatest things I’d ever fucking heard as a little kid.
Hit tracks that followed like ‘The Take Over, The Break’s Over’ and ‘I’m Like A Lawyer…’ are songs that are near irresistibly catchy and well written that I can still recall their hooks and most of the words over a decade later now. Others ‘Thnks Fr The Mmrs’ and ‘This Ain’t A Scene, It’s A Goddamn Arms Race’ of course can’t go unmentioned as they were (and are) staples in Fall Out Boy’s solid career but they were nothing compared to the exceptional likes of ‘I’ve Got All This Ringing in My Ears And None On My Fingers’. That has been and always will be an underrated song from these guys and I fuckin’ wish it got more attention than it did because goddamn, does that chorus melody still give me goosebumps what with it’s simple form and Stump’s falsetto vocals. This record, as a whole, was my introduction to pop-punk and alternative rock that wasn’t the Simple Plan albums that I’d spin to death. ‘Infinity On High‘ impacted me more than I give it credit for and whether or not I’d be a different person now without hearing is irrelevant; what is relevant is how good this record actually is!
‘Folie à Deux’ (2008)
Words: Matty Sievers
I sometimes theorise that I contain the only true copy of ‘Folie à Deux’ and all other copies had some writing error because it sometimes feels like I’m the only person in the world who actually loves this record. The opening organs on ‘Disloyal Order Of Water Buffaloes’ are hauntingly beautiful beneath Stump’s soulful vocals before the song descends into full band mode and sets the scene for this being a much more mature sounding record. Now, as cringey as some people seem to take it, I’ve got a little sweet spot for ‘I Don’t Care’ and ‘America’s Suiteharts’. Yes, they’re definitely the most radio-friendly tracks of the lot and they work well as lead singles but they just pale in comparison when you stack them up against tracks like ‘W.A.M.S’ and ‘She’s My Winona’, both of which have choruses as infectious as the Black Death and far less fatal.
What makes this record great though is that even those great songs that feel somewhat skin deeper are all sat around beautiful gems and anthems like ‘Coffee for Closers’ and ‘What A Catch Donnie’. The former has the band’s absolute best outro with the multi-layered vocals, marching band aesthetic before concluding with a gorgeous string section taken from the book of Panic! At The Disco. ‘What A Catch Donnie’ on the other hand is just beautifully put together and captures the sense of loneliness and quiet sadness that its video conveys brilliantly. Not to mention the refrain being littered with references to their older songs. There was nothing like this on any of their previous records or anything since. The other track on here nobody talks about is the banger of ’20 Dollar Nose Bleed’. That track is pure magic and I think I should let it do the talking and not me because we could be here all day with my blubbering on about it.
‘Folie à Deux’ is definitely a maturation on the sound they had carried all their career and showed them trying to be a bit more theatrical and cinematic in the way they were capturing moments and feelings. There may be less boyish charm here but they made up for it with far more gentlemanly manners.
‘Save Rock And Roll’ (2013)
Words: Owen Morawitz
I mean, honestly… do I really have to explain myself here? As if taking a four-year hiatus from your band, only to ‘magically’ return with an album that’s humbly titled ‘Save Rock And Roll’ wasn’t audacious enough in its blatant piss-takery. Not to mention that despite the jab at rock as a genre that needs saving, this whole record is just an exercise in over-produced, overblown, over-extended radio-pop, minus the, you know, actual rock shit. Most of the tracks here sound like everyone in Maroon 5 who isn’t Adam Levine suddenly bailed from a subpar, inspiration-deficient studio session, so old mate Levine just sits there killing time with lurid acts of self-fellatio, as a somewhat confused yet equally enthralled string section look on in transfixed horror from an adjacent live room.
But wait just a goddamn second here, this isn’t a Maroon 5 album. It’s a Fall Out Boy album! Y’know, those same dudes who used to be in Racetraitor and jam out to Saves The Day covers? And they managed to rope both Courtney Love and Sir Elton John into this shit? God damn. Save rock and roll? Nah, I might just save my fuckin’ ears instead.
‘American Beauty/American Psycho’ (2015)
Words: Peyton Bernhardt
It is my honest belief that due to the loyalty of fans to their previous albums, modern Fall Out Boy continues to be underrated. If ‘From Under the Cork Tree‘ didn’t exist, would this record have received the praise that it deserves? ‘American Beauty//American Psycho‘ throws out banger after banger, and these tracks are bigger than the mistake that lady from ‘Pretty Woman‘ made when she didn’t serve Julia Reports. If you don’t have ‘Jet Pack Blues‘, ‘Twin Skeleton’s‘ and ‘Fourth of July‘ on your “it’s raining and I’m sad” playlists then are you even Fall Out Boy fans at all? Yes, singles like ‘Centuries‘ and ‘Immortals‘ are objectively boring and overplayed songs, but was ‘Immortals‘ really all that boring when you heard it in Big Hero Six? Is ‘Centuries‘ really that bad when it comes on sometimes during sport replays and ads and you feel pride that other people, unenlightened to his talents, are experiencing the glory of Patrick Stump? This is a record that will make you dance, sing loud but also cry a little bit afterwards in the corner. I mean, isn’t that what all great albums do?
(Sidenote: The remix version of this is also criminally under-appreciated. Juicy J and Fall Out Boy on 1 song? What more do you want from these poor men?)
Fall Out Boy will be touring Australia in February and March 2018. Check out the full dates below and buy your tickets here.
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 28th – RIVERSTAGE, BRISBANE
FRIDAY, MARCH 2nd – QUDOS BANK ARENA, SYDNEY
SATURDAY, MARCH 3rd – MARGARET COURT ARENA, MELBOURNE
MONDAY, MARCH 5th *Public Holiday – RED HILL AUDITORIUM, PERTH