Fall Out Boy - Infinity on High
Record Label: Island
Release Date: February 6th, 2007
Overview: There are a few things that must be taken into consideration with this review. One, I have grown to love Fall Out Boy with an incredible passion, and will continue to do so no matter the hate this band receives for no good reason. Their bassist takes too much publicity? He’s a lyrical genius. He can do what he wants. Thirteen-year-old girls still chant This Ain’t A Scene? Not FOB’s fault. Fall Out Boy obviously understands its limitations, which leads me to my next point. Take into consideration the time of this review. Folie A Deux has been out several years and the band is well under hiatus. Fall Out Boy knew when their current run had reached the end of its course. They were not in it to continue making rehashed music for the money. They did not want to grow to despise what they had created. They took pride in their work, a theme very clear and present in this album. I do understand that it takes time and close listening to truly understand what this band is. You must realize how everything works as a whole, and how much the band’s members rely on each other’s talent, clearly seen between Wentz’s and Stump’s reversed-from-the norm lyricist and composer roles, respectively. The intricacy found in each song is just astounding. Lastly, this is indeed what I believe to be the best Fall Out Boy album and also ranks easily among my top five favorites of any band. This album is what I believe to be Fall Out Boy in its truest form, whether you believe it is a biased view or not. Welcome, its here.
Part One: Infinity on High’s opener sets the mood for the entire rest of the album, establishing its main theme very quickly. Infinity’s main lyrical theme seems to be centered on fame and the consequences that ensue with it, primarily self-loathing. Before Pete begins his rants of self-hate, he uses Thriller. This is a vessel to convey a clear attitude of “Fuck you, we have our fans. We are talented. We don’t need your approval.” Long live the car crash hearts, indeed. The band recognizes where they have come from since From Under the Cork Tree and the success and also hate which it brought, and makes it clear that they also know where they are going. Not only is this song unique lyrically in FOB’s self-celebration, but its technical rhythm is also incredible. The guitar work solidifies Pete’s assertions, and sets a powerful, epic vibe. Thriller is a masterpiece, and one of the album’s best. The Take Over more addresses personal issues and begins to steer away from the band as a whole, making each instrument, including Stump’s voice, more individual, rather than the collective mood established by Thriller. The guitar work is the most centrally identifying element of this song. Pete’s lyricism most centrally reflects the fame of the band and not wanting to deal with the hate that ensues. Although very upbeat, the song’s lyrics do not appear as optimistic, a key juxtaposition found in many FOB songs. The climactic chant towards the end of the song (“We do it in the dark, with smiles on our faces!”) leads into a beautiful outro of dueling Stump harmonies, another key FOB element. The song leads into This Ain’t A Scene, a song which I genuinely disliked until I began to appreciate the unique composition of FOB. Pete’s lyrics are again complex and intricate, just as the lives he has begun to lead of all of the band’s die-hard fans which Pete discusses throughout the song. We have shifted from the weight of the hate to the weight of the love, and how pressured Wentz is in living up to expectations. The most memorable moments are, as with many FOB songs, found within the catchy choruses. The chant of the song title provides an epic vibe to fill arenas with the voice of thousands. Overall, the song works in what it attempts to accomplish.
Part two: “I’m Like A Lawyer.” We begin a discourse from the lyrical agenda of the first three songs, which are more about Pete’s pride of the band’s work and weight of the pressure. The songs now start to share a common theme of the self-loathing that this fame, discussed in the first three songs, has begun to instill. It is a relatively somber instrumental track, but also powerful. It may not be my favorite, but the song serves its purpose. Hum Hallelujah is one of my favorite songs on the album. Not only are the verses composed very tightly, but also the chorus’s drum and lyrical work along with Stump’s performance make this one of the most memorable tracks on the album. The “You’re someone who knows someone” and “One day, we’ll get nostalgic” parallelism between melodies ties the song together rather effectively. Wentz seems to be discussing the idea of false love and how prevalent the idea has been in his life. Teenage vows never seem to last more than a weekend. We are indeed all blinded by the ideals of what we want to see, a sad truth Wentz is coming to terms with. The piano ballad that is “Golden” drew its way into my heart rather quickly. I believe I read somewhere that Fall Out Boy did not actually write this song, but I try to look past that when I judge the album as a whole, because it fits in so well. Patrick always shines, but this is truly a chance for him to show his range and falsetto. Especially in the chorus harmony, Stump provides one of his strongest, most passionate performances on the album.
Part three: Golden leads directly into the orchestral beginning of Memories, a commercially and critically successful song. Catchy, poppy, and fast-paced, this is a defining song of Fall Out Boy at this phase of their career. Wentz’ lyrics give us all something we can shout about. That one person that we love so much, we just want to hurt them, and always seem to fall back to. More so, all of the instruments are in perfect harmony to match the biting lyrics Stump belts. This is definitely a shining star of the album. Don’t You Know is another personal favorite. It is a key example of the trademark Fall Out Boy chorus and short, sweet verses. Wentz seems to recognize the failures of the band and of his personal lives, yet they have still been elevated to poster-boy status in the scene. This song is shortest only next to Golden, and leads into my personal favorite of the album, “The After Life.” This song demonstrates more depth in its choruses, an effect that I believe make the stadium-sounding chorus sound even more built up and epic. I can identify with Wentz entirely, searching for success, but only finding myself to be a shallow shell, no matter how hard I push more my dreams. I believe this can mean something to us all. At about two minutes in, the chorus picks up with a guitar progression that is simply ingenious. Something about it makes this single moment the most climactic of the entire album. This is a solid song from start to finish.
Part four: “Carpal Tunnel” kicks off a section of the album characterized by more distorted guitars and fast rhythms; a more intense section. This song demonstrates Stump’s range in its intricate verse work with a consistent reference to the self-loathing that fame has caused Pete. It is some of my favorite lyricism, especially within the juxtaposing chorus. One of the few, if not the only, points in the album in which Pete exercises his screaming ability, and it fits right in to the cathartic song. “Doldrums” slows it down a bit, but not by much. It is more of a melodic interlude to the powerful songs remaining in the album. The guitar work of Thurman is fantastic, with a melodic verse and a strong chorus progression. A little after two minutes, the climax kicks in. “I’ll cast a spell over the West to make you think of me the same way I think of you. This is a love song, in my own way.” This song seems to recap a long lost friendship with a girl that Wentz had strong feelings for who did not reciprocate. Perhaps the beauty in Wentz’ lyricism is how adaptable its metaphoric qualities are to each of our individual lives. Anyways, “Fame” picks up immediately and rapidly and defines itself as the heaviest and darkest of the record. This is my second favorite to “After Life,” because FOB has nailed the funky precious work and the transition into a headband-able chorus. “Signing off, I’m alright in bed, but I’m better with a pen.” Perhaps the heaviness of the instrumentals and the darkness of the lyrics come from a certain publicized moment occurring around this time in Wentz’ career. Either way, it makes for a fantastic song. “You’re Crashing” tries something fresh, original, and different from FOB’s usual approach. Rather than craft a beautiful poem, Wentz takes the opportunity to tell a narrative of a controversial court case publicized in our media. It works incredibly well, and Wentz’ metaphors are still able to shine brightly while painting a mental picture with some beautiful imagery. Throw in some guest vocals, and an incredibly climactic final chorus thanks to Stump’s composing and Hurley and Trohman’s instrumental ability, and the final song on what I consider to be the album proper comes to a satisfactory, yet suspenseful close.
Epilogue: “’I’ve Got All This Ringing’” cannot be grouped in a similar manner to the other songs on this album. With the addition of the bonus EP, it is almost as if FOB wrote several songs specifically as album closers, and picked this one as the most successful in conveying their message. It was a perfect decision. This song holds the two best verses on the entire album, and showcases a slower, more theatric side of FOB that I find to be truly explored in Folie a Deux. Stump hits the highs and lows, and Hurley kicks off a final chorus with some excellent drum work. ”The truth hurts worse than anything I could bring myself to do to you.” Thank you, Fall Out Boy. I will press repeat time and time again.
Conclusion: I HIGHLY recommend checking out the two B-Sides that come with the deluxe version of the album, GINASFS and “It’s Hard To Say ‘I Do’.” They are two of my favorite Fall Out Boy songs and deserve a place in every fan’s heart for what they are- a transitional song on the lines of something in between FUTCT and IOH, and an alternative album closer which provides a more heavy, biting end to the album. Infinity on High is my favorite Fall Out Boy album, and I believe it always will be, if only for nostalgic purposes. This record brought me into the world of FOB and arguably the scene as a whole. These factors, however, do not change the fact that this is an astoundingly well-written piece of art, whether you like FOB or not. The musicians made it clear that they had a point to make, and by the time we hear “Now press repeat,” the point has been made sharply clear- Fall Out Boy is here to stay, together or apart, and has made an irreversible impact on the scene. And it all was set in stone with Infinity on High.
Fall Out Boy are:
Patrick Stump: Vocals, Composition
Pete Wentz: Bass, Lyricism
Joe Trohman: Guitar
Andrew Hurley: Percussion
This album was probably my favorite from them, but I don't listen to their other stuff too much. Thanks For The Memories is an awesome song. But I don't think Pete's lyrics are that great, and I thought that This Ain't A Scene was God-awful.
This was, in my opinion, the end for this band. "Take This To Your Grave" is a stellar pop punk album, "Cork Tree" had some moments, and there were a couple of great songs on this one (plus I can't totally hate on anything with a Butch Walker cameo), but I did not like "Folie" even a little bit, even for nostalgia's sake. Had high hopes for Pat's solo album too, and what I've heard is fun, but we'll see...