January 16, Infinity on High by Fall Out Boy
Genre: Pop punk
Total Number of Tracks: 14
Songs you might know:
– “The Take Over, the Break’s Over”
– “This Ain’t a Scene, It’s an Arms Race”
– “Thnks fr th Mmrs”
My prior relationship with this album: As previously mentioned, my hard copy of Infinity on High was shipped to me in the exact same box as my hard copy of From Under the Cork Tree in late 2008. That’s because I couldn’t pick between the two albums. I listened to both quite frequently in my teen years, but for some reason I never felt like Infinity on High had the same status as a “classic” the way that From Under the Cork Tree does. I still remember it fondly and have sang many of these songs alone in my car at full volume.
My impressions this time around: A lot of the Infinity on High songs have an anthemic quality to them. It’s easy to imagine a stadium full of teenagers belting them together and the album exudes the same energy as a live show in a way most studio albums don’t. While From Under the Cork Tree has a more intimate, confessional vibe to it, Infinity on High feels more communal, oftentimes referring to “we” rather than “I”. Songs like “This Ain’t a Scene, It’s an Arms Race” and “Hum Hallelujah” (possibly the most underrated FOB song of all time) incorporate harmonized, choral vocals in the bridge. It’s as if they’re purposefully trying to make you feel like you’re singing along with other Fall Out Boy fans rather than actual Fall Out Boy.
While Infinity on High is not really a dramatic departure from the first two albums, this is one of the first times we really start seeing FOB experiment with instruments outside the guitar/bass/drums model. “Thnks fr th Mmrs” is one of the best examples of this, but we also get some nice brass on “I’ve Got All This Ringing In My Ears And None On My Fingers.”
I will say that given this sound, the one ballad on here, “Golden,” does stick out like a sore thumb. It’s not a particularly strong song and it sounds like nothing else on the album. I have the impression that it was thrown on here just to say “hey, we can do ballads too” rather than to make any positive contribution to the album. Other songs like “I’m Like a Lawyer With The Way I’m Always Trying To Get You Off (Me & You)” or “The (After) Life Of The Party” do a better job of slowing down the tempo while still having enough in common with the other songs to not feel disruptive.
Obligatory acknowledgment of the lyrical genius of Pete Wentz:
– “I could write it better than you ever felt it” (“Hum Hallelujah”)
– “They say quitters never win, but we walk the plank on a sinking ship” (“Don’t You Know Who I Am Who I Think I Am”)
Who would enjoy it? Anyway who loves rock anthems. Note that I didn’t, just say “pop punk” I said rock.
* This post is part of a theme week, where I listened to all 7 Fall Out Boy studio albums in one week. Check out my other reviews here: