The Savage Animal 03.20.13 First Impressions of Fall Out Boy
Posted by Mikey MiGo on 03.20.2013
Pop punk? Emo Pop? Pop Rock? What scene does Fall Out Boy actually belong to? In THIS 336th edition of The Savage Animal Mikey MiGo finds out by listening to the four studio albums by Fall Out Boy for the very first time. All of this, a rant on wrestling being a valid religion, a review of Hyde Park On Hudson, and more!
There are fans, there are fanatics, and there are devote followers. In many ways professional wrestling is a lot like organized religion. Not in the offensive or tongue-in-cheek kind of way either. What I mean is the target demographic and the devotion involved. There are those who "believe" in a faith but aren't as fanatical as some, but some believers will go to church every week and make religion a big part of their daily life. Regardless of the extent of your belief and practice, you're still a "religious person". Some wrestling fans can be "marks", "smarks", "insiders", or even the professionals themselves. Regardless, if you have "it" in you then you're always going to be a "wrestling person".
It's getting closer to WrestleMania and for a "wrestling person", it's a big deal. The Royal Rumble to WrestleMania period for a "wrestling person" is like the holiday season between Thanksgiving to New Years for most others. Tis the season to be a wrestling fan. If you're an avid viewer, a semi-casual die hard, or a freaky fanatic you're paying attention to what's going on. It makes sense. People will watch and appreciate it at their own leisure. They'll get into other sports, life, and other programming. Life is full of distractions, complications, and things to do. No matter what, if you're really a "wrestling person" then you know what's going on.
This makes me think about the comparison of markdom. The taboo nature of professional wrestling is that it's "fake" and "scripted". In today's world, so what? Just about everything we see on television is "fake" and "scripted". Does anyone care that "reality shows" are "fake" and "scripted"? Nope. Still, this is a taboo. Much like how someone could criticize a "religious person" that their beliefs are "fake". As offensive as it may be to those who devote their lives to an 100% unproven entity, there isn't much difference. You'll have the wrestling fans who'll buy into everything. They'll innocently see everything "as is". You know, the "marks". From there it goes on to different levels of obsession. Then those see behind the curtain know that most religion is based on parables and that the morals and heart of the stories that have been passed down is what people should take in… not the literal. I would think the fair comparison would be the wrestling fans who don't bitch too much about things and appreciate the art of the storytelling in and out of the ring. Those who'll go too far off their rocker to complain about a certain aspect of wrestling are like the religious people who cling on to one or two stances; be it abortion, death penalty, etc., and make it their mission to "save people".
It's all the same. We have our saints, we have our devils, and we have horrible looking shirts.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF FALL OUT BOY
Here Goes Nothing… Every month or so I do this, so it's certainly nothing new. Every few weeks I attempt to expand my musical lexicon and broaden my horizons. Like any music lover, I enjoy absorbing as much great much as possible. Sometimes we just miss the boat. We get locked into our own tastes and scenes and never branch out as much as we'd like. This results in missing out. I've missed out on tons of bands. Be it a classic or iconic band that I was never exposed to, an "underground" act that popped up recently into the mainstream, a band that I avoided, or really for any reason. The point is that I'm going to listen to the studio album discography of a band I'm not too familiar with or in a lot of cases really not familiar with at all. I listen and hope for the best.
Why Fall Out Boy?
Why not Fall Out Boy? I've heard their bigger singles over and over again over the years. Living right outside of Chicago may have oversaturated them for me. I never wanted to really give them a chance. They were just another power pop-punk band that I'd never want to hear again. The early to mid-2000's cranked out tons of bands in the same genre. It's all subjective. It's just not my thing, but it's perfectly cool for someone else to dig it. My musical tastes relate/d more to darker tones, bluesier based rock and roll, jazz progressions, and this all sounded the same to me. The whiner vocals, the screaking screams, and all of the stuff we'd mock as "emo pop". I'll be honest and say I was never open minded to them. I heard one or two pop punk sounding singles and made a firm judgment to classify them as crap. Was I wrong? Did I miss out on something? Is their work as a whole better than the singles that have been hammered into my brain? I hope so. I'm optimistic that this is all just one big misunderstanding and that Fall Out Boy and my ears will get along. Let's see…
Take This to Your Grave
(2003 – 39 minutes) - Fall Out Boy's debut album kicks off with "Tell That Mick He Just Made My List of Things to Do Today". It sounds like what I expected. It's an up-tempo power pop song. It's not bad. In fact, for what it is it's decent. The next track is "Dead on Arrival". I dig the guitar work, but the song reminds me of one of those tame rock songs you'd hear on one of those straight to DVD American Pie sequels.
I again dig the guitar build up and drums on "Grand Theft Autumn/Where Is Your Boy", but the vocals irk me. I'm obviously going to have to look past that as we go forward because I know his vocal style is probably not going to change. The break down about two minutes in is pretty cool too.
The melody on "Saturday" is pretty catchy. Overall, it's probably the best song I've heard so far in this short time of listening. "Homesick at Space Camp" starts off with cool guitars and then once the tempo changes I'm done with it. The chorus singing in the bridge is interesting and builds up nicely back into the tempo I'm not into. "Sending Postcards from a Plane Crash (Wish You Were Here)" goes in one ear and out the other. Nothing about it sticks. It's more of the same more of the same. I listen intently to "Chicago Is So Two Years Ago" expecting some cool references to my nearest major city, but not so much. The guitar gets cool again. It reminds me of The Edge from U2 for like ten seconds. I'm a big U2 fan so naturally I'm impressed and shocked by that. I got swept up in "The Pros and Cons of Breathing". Nothing stuck AT ALL. I can't tell you one lyric or how the melody went at all, but I do know I casually bounced my head around to it as it was on. On one hand, that's not a bad thing but it also kind of proves how disposable it is. I mean, at least upon a first listen. "Grenade Jumper" is a bit better. The tempo is closer to a punk-level and the drums are intense. There is a lot going on in the song that makes it at least something interesting to listen to. I will also say, "Calm Before the Storm" is pretty damn decent. I don't get why THIS wasn't a single. I may have been a tad more open to them if I heard this. It's still in the same ball park as their bigger hits, but the vocals seem more harmonious. To my personally tuned ears, it sounds better. The break down is sorta pimp too and doesn't just jump back in, it rocks out for a little while. To be fair, this song also reminds me of a few unsigned Chicago bands from around the 05ish time frame. Makes sense. My hype calms down a little with "Reinventing the Wheel to Run Myself Over". It's back to bouncy and feels like filler at this point. The album wraps up with "The Patron Saint of Liars and Fakes". It's a solid closer. Everything pretty much comes together on it. The bass line, the drums, the wailing and gritty guitars, and the vocals are all on their A-game. This wasn't as bad as I thought it'd be. It's really not my thing, but I'm starting to understand the appeal and how they could progress to something much more than this debut. These are mainly songs I'd most likely instantly turn off on the radio. I'm just being honest. I'm still listening with optimism and picking the good and the bad to make snarky comments about, but this could be rough. I'm confident they'll evolve closer to a direction that matches up more with what I'm into, but if not at least I'll know why I don't like it. So far, I think I've made the best of it. On to the next…
From Under the Cork Tree
(2005 – 44 minutes) - "Our Lawyer Made Us Change the Name of This Song So We Wouldn't Get Sued" is the song title of the first track of the band's sophomore album. Off the bat it sounds way more polished and refined than anything on the last album. I feel like I've heard this song before. It's not horrible at all. The guitars rock and the drumming stands out. The vocals aren't as "shreaky"(for lack of better words) and have a more harmonious "sung" feeling to them. Stump's voice seems better suited for that style than the other. We'll see if that changes. "Of All the Gin Joints in All the World" is okay, but just okay. I can't call it filler this early in the album, but it's nothing to write home about.
This the first time I've listened to "Dance, Dance" in YEARS. I forgot this song existed. This was a HUGE single when it hit. It's a good song. There's nothing too complain about in this one. It just might be the band's best song. Hell, it might be the best power pop song if I think about it.
I always thought the opening bass line on "Sugar, We're Goin Down" was pretty "rad", but never gave this song much of a chance. It's a catchy as hell song. It was played on Q101 like every five minutes back in the day. It's not that it's a horrible song, it's really not. I think I was just so overexposed to it that since I didn't absolutely love it, I rallied against it. And to be honest, by the end of it I was ready to never hear it again. Ugh! More with the power pop bouncy stuff in "Nobody Puts Baby in the Corner". The drumming and the breaking bass line are pretty tight on it though. Shit gets loud with "I've Got a Dark Alley and a Bad Idea That Says You Should Shut Your Mouth (Summer Song)". It's a calming acoustic tune that really doesn't sound all that much like Fall Out Boy. It's a very "MIX 101.9" type of mom-friendly tune. It's edgy enough to make the kid feel rebellious, but not enough for the mom to worry. I appreciate the acoustic change up though. It just didn't do it for me. "7 Minutes in Heaven (Atavan Halen)" came and went. I didn't take anything from it. It wasn't offensive or lame. It just didn't draw me in. "Sophomore Slump or Comeback of the Year" on the other hand has a bit more to it. The structure choice is cool and again, a slower rock out suits Stumps vocals better. At least I dig them better. The opening guitar on "Champagne for My Real Friends, Real Pain for My Sham Friends" makes you think it's going to rock the eff out, but it turns out to be a solid enough song. It's actually kind of cool until the chorus hits. It's sung well, but there is just nothing about it that makes me want to sing along or say "fuck yeah!". I'm impressed and shocked again. This time because of the all-out metal aggression on "I Slept With Someone in Fall Out Boy and All I Got Was This Stupid Song Written About Me". It's different than the rest of their songs for sure. Gotta respect that AND it's actually decent for metal.
I remember "A Little Less Sixteen Candles, a Little More "Touch Me"" being a single, but I don't remember much about the song. It's a tad disposable and forgettable. I think I've heard "Get Busy Living or Get Busy Dying (Do Your Part to Save the Scene and Stop Going to Shows)" before. I like the progression and how it builds up. The vocals are slightly different than during the verse and then the chorus breaks into a nice rock tune. The rant at the end is a little odd, but rock on dude. The sophomore album closes up with "XO". Back to the Fall Out Boy basics. It's a bouncy power pop song that breaks into a half-sung/half-bouncy chorus. It's an interesting listen, but I'm not sure if I dug it. This album is much better than their debut album. They evolved forward, tried new things, got better, and really seem to have found their voice and identity here. I'd imagine the third album could be even evolve-ier! Let's find out!
Infinity on High
(2007 – 48 minutes) - The band really got big on their third album. It all kicks off with "Thriller". It sounds like Jay Z and it turns out it IS Jay Z. For some reason I thought it was someone else doing an impression. I'm not going to lie, I saw the title "Thriller" and got excited that it was going to be a Michael Jackson cover. Nope. It's a solid rocker, but nothing too crazy or awesome. It could have used a lot more Jay Z if you ask me (you didn't). "The Take Over, the Breaks Over" has a snazzy groove. It's hard not to get caught in the melody of this one. It's contagious as hell and has a nice dose of unexpected soul in the vocals. Solid guitars too.
I know I have heard "This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race", but I never paid it much attention. I don't know why I didn't. I like sway of the bounce the backline gives during the opening and build up. I remember a night in Chicago and being in the car with a few metal musicians the first night I heard this. We were all kind of pissed how much we enjoyed this song. Some songs cross any genre stereotypes or limitations and are just good. If you deny this isn't AT LEAST a "pretty good" tune then you're just a dick.
I was going to ramble about how awesome the vocals are in a soul and R&B manner on "I'm Like a Lawyer with the Way I'm Always Trying to Get You Off (Me & You)", but I don't have to. Babyface produces it. Yes, THAT Babyface. That explains everything. If I heard this I'd probably assume it was a Maroon 5 or a huge R&B star I'm too out of touch to know about. Stumps vocals are outstanding here. "Hum Hallelujah" has that upbeat tempo that I've cringed at and bitched about for the past few albums, but it comes together nicely here. I genuinely think the vocal growth makes a world of difference. We get some nice piano chops and some soulful croons on "Golden". This is probably the first song that the lyrics actually stood out and grabbed me. The down tempo and stripped down approach is kick ass here. I would have never thought this would or could be Fall Out Boy. Substance? No way! It couldn't be! Should have been a single, dammit. This column would have happened already or not at all. I remember "Thnks fr th Mmrs". It was another song that got TONS of radio play. It's not without its charm and cool parts, but the Chicagoland overexposure makes it hard to really absorb this song. "Don't You Know Who I Think I Am?" has a cool title and really nice guitar work, but the vocals and tempo get into that power pop area that's not my thing. Things get weird and experimental in "The (After) Life of the Party". The vocals instantly make me think about Tears For Fears, which is not a bad thing. The music has a less abrasive, more stripped back approach yet has a slight 80's vibe to it. I can't quite put my finger on it, but I like it. This is another song that I wish had been a single because my perception of these guys would be TOTALLY different. Same can be said for "The Carpal Tunnel of Love". I like it better than any of their singles. The vocals change-up in a really interesting way and go in areas Stump hasn't taken it yet. It's a catchy song and has a grimier edge going on even before the primal metal screams kick in after the bridge. Nice. From the opening riffs of "Bang the Doldrums", you'd think you were in for a hair metal song but then it breaks down into a funky as hell melody. Fall Out Boy makes a lot of bouncy songs, but not every song needs to bounce the same way. This song has a different bounce to it. It reminds me a little of Tubring in some parts. "Fame < Infamy" is okay, but nothing too stellar. I didn't like "You're Crashing, but You're No Wave" until the break down about a minute ten into it. The vocals are cool and this is a pleasant head banger of a rock tune. The band's third record closes out with "I've Got All This Ringing in My Ears and None on My Fingers". The opening build up would make for a kick ass 80's fighting montage. Then the lyrics kick in and you realize it would probably be perfect for a kick ass 80's fighting montage. The song goes into a different, cooler, direction from there. I dig the melody and it takes you down nicely for an "ender". This album was good. I'm not too jaded to admit that. It's got a little bit of everything on it. And that little bit of everything all sounds pretty damn good. While the style isn't always my thing, I appreciate enough of it and enjoy plenty of elements to want to check this one out again. The sound is much fuller and they really show off their growth on this album. I can see why it's their biggest release so far. I'm actually excited to get into this next one…
Folie à Deux
(2008 – 51 minutes) - Fall Out Boy's 2008 release begins with organs and calming vocals and then blasts off into some big rock riffs and drums. "Disloyal Order of Water Buffaloes" is a fairly epic opener that blends into an interesting paced power pop rock song. I don't even want to call it "power pop" anymore because I feel like that's belittling it. I guess "pop rock"? Regardless, it's a decent start. You can hear more maturity in the tightness and the production for sure.
I had no idea that "I Don't Care" was a real song. I think I've heard bits and pieces and thought it was a commercial song. The chorus is familiar, but I dunno if I HAVe heard it. It's a bit blander and tamer than their other singles. It just doesn't "pop" as much. I really dig the beat in "She's My Winona". It's a track you can't help but nod a long or tap along to.
The guitar noise to kick off "America's Suitehearts" makes you think it's going to explode into a rock out. They change it up on us with a solid paced medium rocker. Not every song needs to be a head banger. This song almost sounds like a different band. The pacing is so deliberately like loud tip toe swoops that it's impossible not to at least sway a little. The drumming on this album stands out as something that has grown a lot. The chorus is a little rough and it keeps going on and on. Not good for a song under four minutes.
Holy shit… "Headfirst Slide into Cooperstown on a Bad Bet" is interesting. It sounds like a cool ass 80's song remixed with a standard Fall Out Boy song. They break it down a few different ways. The vocal harmony works nicely over the sleak mess that is this rock out. It's metal, it's 80's, and it's a totally new thing. It's really hard to decipher. That's a sign of a good song. My mind is appropriately blown. I'm pretty sure I could play this song for 10 people who'd make fun of Fall Out Boy on the regular and they'd be surprised by this song. These odds and ends would have made for really intriguing singles and probably drew a more mature audience. I have a feeling they'd not complain though. The strut of "The (Shipped) Gold Standard" is pretty cool, but it doesn't really go anywhere worth getting into. They do some fun music things in "(Coffee's for Closers)". They don't waste anything in building the song up. It's a wall of sound and it pulls you in. It's a catchy song for sure. The vocals hit the tones on the early albums I had issues with. It gets hard for me to listen to about two minutes in. The lyrics are hokey as well.
Things slow down a bit on "What a Catch, Donnie", a soulful piano ballad that is joined by drums, bass, and guitar. It's a down tempo border-line R&B tune or something Josh Groban would sing on The Talk. I like the music a lot, but the vocals are a little too much. I was "27" once. It was the greatest 6 weeks of my life. The remaining weeks were spent in a haze. The song "27" doesn't connect. It's got a nice steady rock pace, but it doesn't leave me with any impression other than wondering what the next song will sound like. From Jump Street "Tiffany Blews" is a cool song. The funky groove, the cool singing at the start and throughout, and the pure danciblity is cool. It then breaks down into a less cool chorus. "w.a.m.s." has more cool old school groove to open it up. The vocals are almost nu-wave and poppy-like from the 80's. Kind of cool. It turns out that this is probably my favorite song on this one so far. The title "20 Dollar Nose Bleed" makes you think you're going to hear something Pantera-like. Instead, it sounds like something you'd hear during a montage on "Step By Step". Then you pay attention to the lyrics and realize… no, that would not work. It's an interesting song. The music is chipper and almost like an old-timey wind up salon piano, but the tone is dark. Props. The album closes with "West Coast Smoker". The beginning of it makes you want to shake your fist with the beat. It eventually breaks into a good rock out. The guitar break down before the second verse is killer. I'm a big fan of this one too. I have no read any other reviews for this album. In my opinion, the second half is much stronger than the first. It have more layers and goes in more directions. This was a good album.
THE VERDICT (2003 – ) - Fall Out Boy has been a Chicago staple now for ten years. I can't say I "missed out" on them because I had their biggest singles shoved down my throat. They had a good handful of tunes that I was pleasantly surprised by and would like to check out again in the future. It's music. It's not for everyone. It shouldn't be. I don't like power pop, emo, emo pop, pop punk, or anything of that variety. I once heard the vocals of that kind of music referred to as "tattle rock". You know because everything sounds like the singer is tattling on someone in a whiny matter. I know that's harsh. I like my own stuff that others would trash as well. It's just not my thing. On the flip side of that, Fall Out Boy is REALLY good at what I genuinely don't like. I can hear the quality. They didn't just stick to the same formula and I dug that aspect. They changed things up pretty often and took some chances. Patrick Stump's voice can be awesome to my ears when he's dropping his soulful side, but the more shouty Blink 182-ish stuff is painful. I love the dude's guitar work though and he seems like a really cool dude. The music is consistently at least interesting. I didn't care too much for Pete Wentz going into this. I don't care about all the TMZ nonsense. He's a solid musician and he was on an episode of Californication so I guess he's cool in my book now. Plus he's in a band named after a character reference from The Simpsons. Overall, I can't hate on these guys any more. This listening experience didn't add a whole lot of new songs to my regular playlist rotation, but it at least got some of the hate out of my black metal heart.
"HYDE PARK ON HUDSON"
Bill Murray really can't do any wrong. In Hyde Park On Hudson he proves that concept again. Bill Murray plays Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1939. It's a few days in his long and illustrious life, but an interesting few days for sure. It's when King George VI and Queen Elizabeth came to America to hang out with and meet with the President and Eleanor Roosevelt (Oliva Williams) at this private estate in New York. King George VI is played by Samuel West and Elizabeth by the always awesome Olivia Colman("Peep Show" fame!). The King is in America for the first time to basically ask for help on the whole WWII situation. It's an important point in history, but it's not shoved at us with some overly dramatic cinematic nonsense. It's a casual affair with tons of heart and realism. Along with these huge political situations, the movie is just as much about the people who were involved. The relationship between George and Elizabeth is really interesting and done well. The perspective the movie takes is of FDR's somewhat distant cousin, Margaret Suckley. Played gracefully by Laura Linney, we discover the odd relationship she had with FDR. Apparently FDR was a ladies man, despite being wheelchair-bound. This movie is all about how everyone related. The relationship between the King and Queen, the relationship between America and England, the relationship between FDR and the first lady, the relationship between FDR and his cousin, and the relationship between FDR and the world; it was all relation. That's not a bad thing. The rambled description I just provided sounds like a big rom-com mess but I assure you it's not. While a lot goes on, the movie doesn't feel rushed. You get to absorb the lives of the people you're watching and gain your own perspective of a part of Americana that is often not as romanticized as others. Like I said, Bill Murray really can't do any wrong. I'm a huge fan of his and enjoy him in everything. Sometimes you take for granted how amazing of an actor he is because you're blinded by the unconditional fandom. The dude can act. In this movie he still brings the charm, but he loses himself in the character. If you're an adult who can handle a little historical heart then you'll want to see this. It's not quite a "rom-com" and not quite a deep and impactful drama. It's a solid movie with a few great performances. See it! B+
After Earth is the new M. Night Shymalan movie. This one stars Will Smith and his son Jaden Smith as two people who get stuck on Earth 1,000 years after "cataclysmic events" when their space ship crashes. Not only do they have to fight for survival and deal with the new evolved animal species, but a crazy alien creature escaped their shuttle during the crash. So basically I'm thinking this is the post-apocalyptic sequel to "Pursuit of Happiness". Bad ass. Of course I'm kidding. It could be pretty cool and I'd check it out for sure. My bet for the signature "M. Night twist" is that this isn't the future, but rather the past! We find out that "we" (humans) already destroyed Earth and these two dudes and whoever else shows up during the movie (I'm sure SOMEONE will) will be "Adam" and "Eve"… or something like that. I hope I'm way off and the twist is not only surprising but fulfilling like the classic stuff in "Sixth Sense" or my favorite of the M. Night movies "Unbreakable". I genuinely like M. Night Shyamalan. Sometimes his movies connect with me and sometimes not, but I appreciate his efforts and how his mind works. With Will Smith and his promising son getting to explore this world I'm in the very least "curious". That's more than I can say for a lot of movies these days.
That's all for now. I had intended on putting up the "First Impression of The Police", but I pulled the ol' bait and switch and went with Fall Out Boy instead. I'm still going to listen to The Police, but the Fall Out Boy option seemed a little more topical with their new release coming up in about a month. So for better or worse, this happened. I can at least say it's out of the way now. It was a decent enough experience. Next up I'm keeping busy with a ramble about fake songs in wrestling, the album covers of Madonna, and THEN I'll get to "The Police". This is all, of course, "subject to change" because I'm a fickle jerk. I'm toying with a very time sensitive column idea that would be a lot of fun to let my invisible hair down with. Who knows?! Until next time… Have a Great Week!