An Album a Day: Week 3 (Fall Out Boy Week)

Writer’s note: I know. I took too long to write this and I’m behind on other blog posts as well. I’m working on it.

It took me exactly two weeks before it was time for a theme week. It turns out one of my favorite bands has exactly seven albums making them a prime contender. So I present to you… Fall Out Boy week.

According to Amazon, I ordered my first Fall Out Boy albums the day after Christmas in 2008. That makes January of 2019 roughly the 10-year anniversary of my love affair with this band, so it makes sense to commemorate that.

Fall Out Boy is a fascinating band to me because they have changed a lot over the years, yet I don’t think they’ve ever crossed the line into “bad” (though many may disagree with me). Their most recent album sounds nothing like their debut album, yet if you listen to all the albums in between there’s a logical progression. There’s enough things that have remained constant that they still always manage to sound like Fall Out Boy, even when they’re experimenting with new sounds.

January 14, Take This To Your Grave by Fall Out Boy

Take This To Your Grave.jpg


Genre: Pop punk
Year: 2003
Runtime: 39:24
Total tracks: 12
Singles you might know:
– “Dead on Arrival”
– “Grand Theft Autumn/Where Is Your Boy Tonight”
– “Saturday”


 My prior relationship with this album: Believe it or not, I had never really sank my teeth into Take This To Your Grave despite considering Fall Out Boy one of my favorite bands for the last decade. Sure, I knew the singles from it, and enjoyed them as much as any other FOB tracks, but I was content enough with From Under The Cork Tree and Infinity On High that I never really bothered to go back to this one before now. I definitely remember jamming out to “Dead On Arrival” on one of the Rock Band video games though.

My impressions this time around: You really can’t ask for much more in a pop punk album. You have the catchy hooks of pop, the instrumentation of rock, and the whiny lyrics of teen angst. It’s the sort of thing that feels like it could’ve been recorded by the boys next door fooling around in their parents’ garage if said boys actually had talent and skill. That being said, it’s a little too homogenous for me. Most of these songs would do just fine if they came up on shuffle, but when I listen to all twelve in one go and they kind of muddy together.

Who would enjoy it? 
Really any fan of pop punk. If you’re like me and played From Under the Cork Tree repeatedly but never went back to the album that started it all, you should. It’s definitely worth your time. However, there’s not really anything here for people who don’t like that specific type of music. It’s well executed, but not a fresh spin on the genre.

January 15, From Under The Cork Tree by Fall Out Boy

Fall Out Boy - From Under the Cork Tree - CD album cover.jpg


Genre: Pop punk
Year: 2005
Runtime: 43:00
Total Number of Tracks: 13
Singles you might know:
– “Dance, Dance”
– “Sugar, We’re Going Down”
– “A Little Less Sixteen Candles, A Little More Touch Me”



 My prior relationship with this album: As far as Teenage Anne was concerned, From Under the Cork Tree was THE Fall Out Boy album. It boasts “Dance, Dance” and “Sugar, We’re Going Down” and like many of my generation, these are the songs that first introduced me to Fall Out Boy and made me want to know more. If there is such a thing as a “classic” Fall Out Boy album, I feel like it’s this one. It has a huge element of nostalgia for me, even though I still can’t remember a lot of the off-the-wall song titles.

My impressions this time around: While still sounding quite similar to Take This To Your Grave, From Under the Cork Tree trades a hint of angst for tasteful vulnerability (but still a fair share of angst though). The themes of sadness and self-pity are still here, but somehow come off a tad less angry and whiny. This whole album goes to show that you can write sad songs without making them slow ballads, even if there are a couple changes in tempo with songs like “I’ve Got a Dark Alley and a Bad Idea That Says You Should Shut Your Mouth (Summer Song)” and “Get Busy Living or Get Busy Dying (Do Your Part to Save the Scene and Stop Going to Shows)”. It’s still very much a rock album, but each song is charged full of real emotion rather than the more cliché lyrics of sex, drugs, and partying that are ubiquitous in other rock sub-genres.

I also feel like the lyrical genius of Pete Wentz really shines through here more so than Take This To Your Grave. Somehow Wentz is able to take the relatively common rock song topic of “I want to have sex with some girl who doesn’t want to have sex with me” and turn it into something deeper and more emotional. Yet at the same time, I wouldn’t label these cheesy love songs either. They’re that perfect ode to the awkward middle ground between love and horniness that is hormonally charged teenage lust. We start seeing the memorable one-liners that I’ve come to expect from Fall Out Boy such as:

– “Can I lay in your bed all day? I’ll be your best kept secret and your biggest mistake.” (“Nobody Puts Baby in the Corner”)
– “I’d burn the city down to show you the light” (“Sophomore Slump or Comeback of the Year”)
– “The Best Part of Believe is the Lie” (Sophomore Slump or Comeback of the Year”)

It’s that lyricism, along with Stump’s vocals that inject raw emotion into every track even though musically it’s still an upbeat rock album.

Who would enjoy it? Anyone who likes rock music and especially those who appreciate more intricate lyrics in their rock music.

January 16, Infinity On High by Fall Out Boy



Genre: Pop punk
Year: 2007
Runtime: 47:49
Total Number of Tracks: 14
Singles 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.

January 17, Folie à Deux by Fall Out Boy

Genre: Pop punk, light on the punk though.
Year: 2008
Runtime: 50:23
Total Number of Tracks: 13
Singles you might know:
– “I Don’t Care”
– “America’s Suitehearts”
– “Headfirst Slide Into Cooperstown on a Bad Bet”
– “What a Catch, Donnie”



My prior relationship with this album: I remember “I Don’t Care” getting played almost constantly on the local alternative rock station when it first came out. It was my jam, and deserves almost as much credit as “Dance, Dance” or “Sugar, We’re Going Down” in terms of turning me into an FOB fan. Yet as much as I loved it, I never bothered to listen to the full album prior to now. I loved From Under the Cork Tree and Infinity on High so much that I almost felt like this album was a waste of my time, because there was no way it could outdo its predecessors.

My impressions this time around: I’m mad at myself for not giving this album more of a chance earlier because it’s pretty fantastic. While Infinity on High is a bunch of rock anthems with a token ballad, Folie á Deux shows that Fall Out Boy can incorporate both of those moods into a single song.  “What a Catch, Donnie” is a great example, blending the more intimate feel of piano and vocals with the bigger sounds of rock and orchestral instrumentation as well.

This allows Folie á Deux to be a cohesive album that still has a fair amount of dynamic contrast. There’s no song that sticks out the way that “Golden” does on Infinity on High, yet I’m not listening to the same song over and over again either. It is currently the median FOB album, so it makes sense that you can hear that damn near perfect balance between old and new Fall Out Boy. There’s just enough experimentation that it doesn’t feel like a rehash of prior albums, all while being similar enough that anyone who likes those albums will still like this.

Who would enjoy it? This is a great pick for people who love to see subtle hints of orchestra in their rock music. It’s also good for people who like the concept of pop punk or alternative rock that might’ve found more extreme examples of the genre off putting. This is still very much a rock album with the intensity of pop punk, but more commercial than say RIOT! by Paramore or Welcome to the Black Parade by My Chemical Romance or even the earlier Fall Out Boy albums.

January 18, Save Rock And Roll by Fall Out Boy

Alternative rock
Year: 2013
Runtime: 41:37
Total Number of Tracks: 11
Singles you might know:
– “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light Em Up)”
– “The Phoenix”
– “Alone Together”



My prior relationship with this album: I freaking LOVE Save Rock And Roll quite unapologetically. Because I had essentially skipped over Folie á Deux I had not really heard the more experimental side of Fall Out Boy prior to this album. This was the first album that showed me Fall Out Boy could be more than an angsty pop punk band. I also find that it evolved much the same way my own tastes did at around the same time. Right as I was becoming more appreciative of pop, R&B, hip hop, and the magic that can happen when those genres are allowed to co-mingle, this album gave me those influences as well as the angsty pop punk vibes I know and love.

My impressions with it this time around: This is the first post-hiatus FOB album, released five years after Folie á Deux and that fact manifests in the album’s sound. This is the first instance where there’s a rather dramatic jump from the prior album. While pretty much anyone who likes one of the first four albums will probably like all of them, it’s hard to make the same promise about Save Rock And Roll. 

While there’s certainly some of the pre-hiatus Fall Out Boy sound with songs like “Miss Missing You,” “Death Valley,” and “Rat A Tat” there’s also an incredibly diverse mix of other influences. Just look at the artists they’ve collaborated with: Big Sean, Foxes, Courtney Love, and Elton John are each featured on different tracks.

Who would enjoy it? This is a great one for fans of rock music who aren’t in an exclusive relationship with rock music. Unlike pre-hiatus FOB, you do need a somewhat more diverse range of music tastes to appreciate this one, but if you do this is right up your alley.

January 19, American Beauty/American Psycho by Fall Out Boy

American Beauty American Psycho cover.png


Genre: Alternative rock but also really kind of pop too
Year: 2015
Runtime: 39:01
Total Number of Tracks: 11
Singles you might know:
– “Irresistible”
– “American Beauty/American Psycho”
– Centuries”
– “Uma Thurman”
– “Immortals”

My prior relationship with this album: I had never bothered to listen to this whole album. I do this weird thing sometimes where if I’m head over heels in love with an album the way I was with Save Rock And Roll I sometimes resist listening to other albums so as not to be disappointed. That being said, I had heard the four singles and I also saw Fall Out Boy live in 2015, which is to say I may have even heard more than I remember. So while it’s not entirely accurate to say I was unfamiliar with this album. . . it’s not entirely accurate to say I was familiar either.

My impression this time around: While the album is certainly enjoyable, there’s also something forgettable about it. I’m not sure it really breaks any new ground the way that Save Rock And Roll did, which is neither a good nor bad thing. The song that probably best encapsulates how I feel about this album is “Jet Pack Blues.” Each time I listened to the album, I would get to this song and think “damn, this is a good song. Why have I slept on it so long?” And yet when I WASN’T listening to the album, the song was not stuck in my head. On subsequent listens I would think “Oh yeah that’s right. This WAS a great song.”

 Who would enjoy it? People who like the less aggressive, more pop-friendly side of rock music.

January 20, M A N I A by Fall Out Boy

Fall Out Boy - Mania.png

Alternative pop… if that’s a thing.
Year: 2018
Runtime: 35:46
Total Number of Tracks: 10
Singles you might know:
– “Young and Menace”
– “Champion”
– “The Last of the Real Ones”
– “Hold Me Tight or Don’t”
– “Wilson (Expensive Mistakes)”


My prior relationship with this album: I initially ignored MANIA but when I heard the song “Wilson (Expensive Mistakes)” on the radio, it was one of those songs that just grabbed me and and demanded to be heard again. That prompted me to listen to the whole album. Because it’s only a year old, I don’t have the same relationship with it as I do earlier albums, but I enjoy it more than most other FOB fans.

My impression this time around: While I remain a MANIA sympathizer, I can also see why this was a disappointing album for some people. There is an admirable amount of risk taking here, incorporating many modern pop trends to the point that many songs aren’t even rock anymore. I don’t really have a problem with that, but I do have to subtract points for lack of consistency. I LOVE “The Last of the Real Ones” and “Wilson (Expensive Mistakes).” I love them to the point that I’d rather just bounce back and forth between these two songs rather than listen to the whole album. The ballads such as “Heaven’s Gate” and “Young and Menace” are respectable, but don’t float my boat.

So while this one will probably never be my favorite Fall Out Boy album,  it is a testament to their fearlessness as a band. It’s the sort of album that makes me excited to see what they’ll do next, and not every band is able to maintain that excitement seven albums into their career.

Who would enjoy it? People that enjoy pop that isn’t TOO poppy.



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