CD Review of Folie a Deux by Fall Out Boy
Fall Out Boy: Folie a Deux
Recommended if you like
New Found Glory, MxPx,
Panic at the Disco
Label
Island
Fall Out Boy:
Folie a Deux

Reviewed by Mojo Flucke, PhD

()

S
on of a bitch, this band is so annoying. Annoying not because they come across like a bunch of whiny navel-gazing twerps – which they, in fact, do – but because they are so damned good and yet choose to continue write songs about and for 14-year-old girls and their tragically, emotionally flawed beaus. Safe stuff. The same furrow they've plowed for five records. Fall Out Boy has so much potential, and it's a terrible thing to hear it all wasting away before our ears.

There is something out there in rock akin to the Force in "Star Wars," a certain indescribable ability to take those same old chords and beats and fuse them into a new, high-energy music that is "it." You know what it is. It's why you unconsciously sing the catchy line from this record's "America's Suitehearts" or "Disloyal Order of Water Buffaloes" and its "dee-tox, just to ree-tox" chorus. It's "Nah, nah nah, nahnahnahnah, nahnahnahnah, heyyyyy Jude!" It's "FM, no static at all." It's "I can't get no, satis-FAC-tion!" This band sings and plays its hearts out, and the songs are sooo delicious. They have the power. They have the stage. The music and harmonies are so easy to listen to; it's clear FOB comprises deeply talented players and writers who can smell what differentiates really good music from great; it oozes from their pores. Effortlessly, they shift from blues to ska to bad '70s pop to that bedrock emo thing they do and it sounds so polished, everything fits together precisely and elegantly.

But, to repeat – navel-gazing twerps. With dumb, wordy song titles that often only tangentially relate to the actual song.

Fall Out Boy

It's 2009. FOB's generation was a big part of exorcising Washington of George Bush and the Republican Guard. Optimism reigns supreme for the first time in a decade, despite an economy running off the rails. Everyday people are looking out for others and thinking about how they can affect the greater good in their own small ways. FOB owns this generation. And yet they choose to sing repeatedly about the nuances of pre- and post-rehab chemical dependence, and about how "nobody wants to hear you sing about tragedy." No shit, Pete Wentz. Not this critic, at least.

The whole record can be read like a Spinal Tap-style cruel joke on its audience: Take, for instance, the title. Folie a deux is an actual rare psychosis, a "shared madness" that one person somehow transfers to another, and now they're both the same flavor of nutty. Like, Fall Out Boy suckered all you kids into buying our crummy record! Akin to the classic Who joking on its fans, where Pete Townshend mutters "Do ya?" after Roger Daltrey sings "I know that the hypnotized never lie!" in "Won't Get Fooled Again." Speaking of which, FOB quotes the Who twice on this record, using "Baba O'Reilly's" chords in the intro to opening cut "Water Buffaloes" and the monstrously cathartic five-note closing of "Fooled" in "(Coffee's for Closers)."

As leaders of its generation, culturally, Fall Out Boy has a moment to seize, it's out there for the grabbing. Hell, they've got enough pull in the industry that they roped Li'L Wayne, Pharrell, Debbie Harry, and Elvis Costello into participating on this record. But they're out of tune with America. While we were all marching the streets of our neighborhood putting Obama signs in our yards and standing firm against the "America First" old white guys, this band is laying down the aforementioned "(Coffee)," which is built on a chorus hook involving lead singer Patrick Stump crying "I will never believe in anything again," over and over. Huh? What? Somehow, the band got the message that there was an election going on, and elected to move the release date of the album from Election Day to December 16, after a series of innovative promotions, such as selling singles early on iTunes and allowing buyers to apply the money they shelled out as credit toward the purchase of the album.

Don't get me wrong, I don't want these guys to morph into Odetta or Bob Dylan, circa 1963. That would truly be a tragic story worth telling in an emo band's arena anthem. They don't even have to be Scott McKenzie, moronically singing about freaking flowers in your hair. But maybe a little U2 or R.E.M political awareness woven into its music would propel Fall Out Boy from the girls' locker room to the mainstream, adult music world. Until then, they're just the same old crap Nirvana excoriated in "Smells Like Teen Spirit."

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