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January 14, 2009 |

By TK Burton | Music | January 14, 2009 |

(ed. note — this is the first of two rounds of music reviews today. Tune in again at 4:30 for part 2. Thanks. —TK)

Fobfolie.jpgFall Out Boy: Folie A Deux
[Island Records]

There’s an interesting atmosphere that seems to show up in the comment sections of most of Pajiba’s music posts; a very different attitude than what is generally present in the movie and TV-related posts. The reactions to what TK and Company has to say are generally along the lines of: “man, you guys have really shitty taste in music.” Be it indie, pop, rock, hip-hop or country/folk music being reviewed or highlighted, there’s only about five people per post who are down with that day’s selection. Chalk it up to both the vast ocean of music that’s out there and the incredibly diverse tastes of the readership here, I suppose. With that in mind, I’m beginning to prepare for the shit-storm that will probably result from the following statement:

I like Fall Out Boy.

I like Fall Out Boy a lot.

Now, I’m really not much for today’s top-40 music. I prefer a little more thought to go into my rock ‘n’ roll, or at least a healthy amount of talent to prop up shallow songwriting. There was a time, dear friends, when a person with such tastes didn’t have to enjoy Fall Out Boy in secret. When they first broke into the mainstream in 2005 with From Under the Cork Tree, they were a less well-known but clever and catchy rock band with a bassist who wore makeup and liked to take pictures of his pecker; his obnoxiousness was offset by the pudgy lead singer who never put his hood down. The pudgy singer wrote the music—pop hooks that stuck in your head like the image of your cousin naked: you probably recognized that you might regret seeing it later on, but in the moment, it looked damn good. The girly emo-bassist penned clever lyrics that were smart enough to elicit a smirk. It was good pop-rock music. My erstwhile acoustic band even played “Sugar, We’re Goin’ Down” regularly. People dug it. Somehow, though, after the six millionth radio airing of that song and “Dance, Dance,” rock fans seemed to sour on them. It was as if the general rock fandom chose to give way to the teen girls who liked FOB simply because they were on the radio (and, of course, because of Pete Wentz’s eyeliner/penis).

I don’t care. I love this band. Their follow up to Cork Tree, 2007’s Infinity on High, was an apt rebuttal to their mainstream success; it garnered head-splitting levels of radio play while insulting its supposed target audience. Their latest effort, Folie à Deux, is another solid one; a start-to-finish pleasure full of offbeat pop hooks, anthemic choruses and cynical wit. The band continues to hone the sound they’ve evolved through their major-label career while maintaining comforting familiarity—you know what you’re in for when you push ‘play.’ There will be a single (“America’s Suitehearts”), written in the key of D and it will sound just like “Sugar We’re Goin’ Down.” It will be irresistible. There will be at least one other similarly irresistible song (“Disloyal Order of Water Buffaloes”), also in D (Patrick Stump really, really likes to write music in D) that will not be a radio single. There will be a Depeche Mode-influenced single with a funkier, thumping beat (“I Don’t Care”) and a crowd of people yelling the chorus. It will sound like a louder, thicker “Personal Jesus.” There will be a more piano-based single (“What A Catch, Donnie”), conducive to lighter-holding. There will be a bevy of guest appearances, some impressive (Elvis Costello, Debbie Harry) and some not (Li’l Wayne). There will be a collaboration with Brendan Urie of Panic at the Disco (“20 Dollar Nosebleed”), who himself has refined his pop sensibilities to near-orgasmic levels; it will be one of the album’s strongest tracks, despite that it would be more in-place on a Panic album. There will be a long-titled song about infidelity (“Headfirst Slide Into Cooperstown On A Bad Bet”). To this song, you will bob your head.

There will also, at some point, be a Wentz-spoken soliloquy at the end of a song (“20 Dollar Nosebleed”). You’ll probably skip through it.

The short-and-skinny is that if you’ve liked the last two FOB releases, you’ll like this one too. If you didn’t, well, I’m not sure what to tell you. I won’t say that this is a guilty pleasure; it isn’t. What Fall Out Boy is, really, is well-written and reasonably intelligent pop-rock masquerading as teen radio fodder. Whether the stupid children are in on the joke is irrelevant; they’re not really the target demographic. If you can put aside your top 40 prejudices for an hour, do give this album a listen. Just don’t picture the tiny bassist with the swoopy hair and eyeliner, and you might find yourself opening up to this little gem.

Sean Kufel is an engineer who, sadly, does not drive trains. He can very rarely be found sitting still and is pleased with his recent foray into beard-wearing. He lives with his wife on the west side of Cleveland.

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Wednesday New Releases, Part 1 / Sean K

Music | January 14, 2009 |

TK Burton is the Editorial Director. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.

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