Fall Out Boy – Infinity On High
Record Label: Island Records
Release Date: February 6th, 2007
I’m going to cut to the chase – Fall Out Boy’s fourth record Infinity On High is my favorite album of all time. I’m not going to lie about that; this record means the world to me. It’s the best record I, personally, have ever listened to in my life. I do have quite a history with this album. I was about 13 when this album came out, and I was merely just starting to get into music. I picked this up when it came out at a local Target, and I remember only vaguely hearing about this band. A couple years prior, I had heard “Sugar, We’re Goin’ Down” and watched the music video for it, because my friend came over to my house and showed it to me. It was nothing like I had ever heard before, because I grew up on classic rock and country music, because that’s what my parents were into, and still are today. That was the first “alternative” song I had ever heard, and I was instantly curious and blown away, to be honest. Somehow, though, I forgot about the band but my curiosity was sparked again when I saw this album in stores. I picked it up, and brought it home. When I first listened to it, I was instantly in love with it. This record was the first record I ever truly “fell in love” with. Besides being an amazing record, the emotional attachment is through the roof with me. I grew up with this album and this album grew up with me. It’s a part of my life and a part of my history, so to speak. This album is a part of me. That’s so cheesy, I know, but I’ve only felt that way about a few records, and this is one of them. Despite that, I won’t be spending the duration of the review “fanboying” over it. People tend to make the mistake of reviewing things they like but not explaining why they like it. They just gush over how wonderful everything is, and don’t actually analyze it. Believe it or not, there are a couple of songs on this record that I do not like. That should be normal, because I’m not going to like everything that my favorite bands have done, but I do love a majority of this record. As a whole, this record is fantastic, and the two songs I don’t care for don’t hinder my enjoyment of it at all. I’ll get to those soon, but the record as a whole is something to marvel at, especially for a couple of reasons. Vocalist Patrick Stump was always that people noticed about this band, and for good reason, the man is a genius. Well, a musical genius, anyway. Believe it or not, he was actually coaxed into being Fall Out Boy’s singer during their inception. Despite that, his vocals were always held back a bit on their prior releases because they’re a pop-punk band. Patrick couldn’t let his voice shine, but don’t get me wrong, his voice is great on their past releases. His voice started coming through on 2005’s From Under the Cork Tree, but barely. This record, on the other hand, his voice shines completely throughout. That has to do with the second reason why this record is so great – the accompanying instrumentation. The musicianship between the rest of the band members is fantastic here. The band finally let go of their pop-punk reigns, and expanded into different territories, such as pop, R&B, soul, and flamenco on a track, even. This record is quite eclectic and that’s what I love about it. The variety on here is fantastic. There’s so much to take from here, it’s beautiful. Everything works in unison, really, and you don’t see that very much anymore.
The record starts off with “Thriller,” which I’ve read, is homage to the Michael Jackson record of the same name, and it’s fitting, because parts of this record do remind me of it, frankly. The same goes with Patrick’s voice; he really lets his inner Michael Jackson shine on this record and at some points, I’m absolutely blown away. The song actually begins with a spoken word intro by Jay-Z, of all people. Who knew that he would appear on a Fall Out Boy record, but the reason he’s on it is because they wanted to include someone that fans would not expect, and well, I didn’t even who Jay-Z was when I first got this record. Going back, I definitely could hear Hov’s voice. It’s a great intro and he also appears at the end, too, which is cool. The song itself, though, is brilliant. The whole song is about Fall Out Boy’s new found fame that they achieved after From Under the Cork Tree was released, and this record was released at the top of their peak. And this song really touches on that topic. This song really shows why Fall Out Boy got the fame they deserved (and still are relevant today) – Patrick’s vocals are absolutely fantastic, but I would not say they’re the best they’ve ever been. That I would say is reserved for his first solo record Soul Punk, released about two years ago. If you thought this was the record where Patrick’s vocals begin to shine, listen to that record. He finally lets the soul, R&B, and pop side out of him and it’s beautiful. Lyrically, Pete Wentz has always been known for writing great lyrics, and this track (and record) are no exception. Wentz certainly has a way with words, and it’s very apparent here. Second track “The Takeover, The Break’s Over” is one of the leading singles from the record, but not the most popular. Those two are later on in the record, but this song is quite well known as well. This song has a very R&B vibe to it, and it starts off with some very nice handclaps and a very infectious guitar riff delivered by Joe Trohman. The chorus in this song is absolutely fantastic as well. This is one of those songs that is just memorable in every single way. It’s beautiful.
Third track “This Ain’t a Scene, It’s an Arms Race” is probably the most popular song from this record, and for good reason; immediately, Patrick’s voice sets the stage for the song and this also has a very R&B/pop feel to it as well. My friend even described Patrick’s voice on this track having “swagger,” and I’d really agree to that! When you listen to this track, you definitely tell that Patrick is confident with the words he’s saying. He owns that song, essentially. I also have a feeling that this song is about fair weather fans of the band, too, which is another interesting topic to touch on. The bridge of the song is also just absolutely wonderful; Patrick’s “swagger” dominates the track once again during the bridge when he commands the listeners to sing “until their lungs give out.” The gang vocals during the chorus are just amazing as well. That leads right into fourth track, “I’m Like a Lawyer,” and that’s a much more R&B laden track with Patrick’s voice taking on Michael Jackson at some points. This song really has a “groove” to it, and it’s nothing that Fall Out Boy has done in the past. In all honesty, though, the only song that really comes close to anything Fall Out Boy has done prior is opening track “Thriller.” That has a slight pop-punk vibe to it, but really, every other song has strayed in a totally different direction. Fifth track “Hum Hallelujah” slightly returns to form, but still definitely has that pop-rock edge; Patrick’s voice is in full force on this track, and it’s just absolutely fantastic. This is one of those tracks where everything does work together. The lyrics of this song are clever and wonderful, specifically, “I could write it better than you ever felt it.” This is easily my favorite track on the record without a doubt. Ironically, though, next track “Golden” is one of those songs that I just don’t like it. This is a piano ballad and in all honesty, that doesn’t seem like a bad idea, right? While Patrick’s voice is absolutely amazing here, the song just… I don’t know. It just doesn’t stick with me, really. Thankfully, seventh track “Thks fr th Mmrs” follows it, and this is the other most popular track on the record. Honestly, I always used to think that the title was a clever play on words for “texting language” for someone texting his ex a breakup message. This song does have a very “bitter” feel to it, and I love it. I really do. This is where the flamenco shows up, too; in the second verse, it’s quite apparent and it’s so cool.
I know that this review is turning into a track by track review, but let’s face it – this record is one of those records where every track is worth listening to. With that being said, eighth track “Don’t You Know Who I Think I Am?” is another one of those tracks that do have a very vague pop-punk sound in them. It starts off with a series of hand claps, and then turns into one of the most infectious songs on the record. Patrick’s voice dominates this track (as he does with many others) and just kills it. The chorus is definitely one of the catchiest on this record, too. Next comes “The (After) Life of the Party”, and this is the other song on the record that I don’t like. It’s not a truly awful track, but it just doesn’t do anything for me, really. There’s a lot going on in this track, and I think there’s too much, really. They could’ve scaled back here a bit, honestly. Regardless, moving on, tenth track “The Carpal Tunnel of Love” is really interesting for a couple of reasons; this is a much more “rock” track. Not pop-punk, but more straight-forward rock. And the second reason it’s really interesting is that it features Pete Wentz screaming in the bridge. His vocals are okay, but thankfully, his little verse is brief. The track has a very nice chorus and catchy chorus as well, so the track does not fail whatsoever. Eleventh track “Bang the Doldrums” is one of my favorite tracks on here and mainly it’s because it really has, what I call, a “pirate” sound. In the chorus, there are a lot of “yo-ho-hos,” and it just sounds like something a pirate would sing. And this is another song where the chorus is huge. Patrick Stump is a great composer and he has composed a majority of Fall Out Boy songs, and he knows what a catchy chorus is. Ironically, that is the case of next track “Fame < Infamy.” This song has a great chorus. This song is much more “rock-oriented,” as well. Trohman and Stump’s guitar riffs are very prominent here, but work very well. This song isn’t my favorite, but it’s great, nonetheless. The same goes for the last two tracks, really; “You’re Crashing, But You’re No Wave” is a really cool song in the sense of its lyrics. It’s about a court case, and that’s not something I’ve heard from many bands. Last track “I’ve Got All This Ringing In My Ears and None On My Fingers” kind of sounds a bit like “Golden,” in the sense that it’s rather slowed down, but it works altogether. It does stray from the overall “style” of the record, which is essentially infectious pop-rock, with R&B/soul influence, and mainly in part to Patrick’s vocals. His vocals have definitely changed on this record. He’s allowed himself to be more “free,” basically, and I really like that. The album does end on a really nice, though; after “Ringing” ends, a robotic says “And press repeat,” which is pretty clever, because it makes me does want to press repeat. To be honest, though, I could probably play this record for the rest of my life and not get sick of it.
i'm half asleep but this review kept me awake lol, i love your honesty and passion about the band as i'm the same! i don't disagree with anything you've said (though I do like Golden, I think it works wonderfully!) but i don't like The (After) Life of the party at all, it's way overproduced to the point where it just gets too slow and boring for me. But it would be one of my favourite albums of all time too, I have that same connection and I'm glad to hear someone appreciating not only Wentz's way with words but Patrick's way of SINGING those words. He blows me away every new album, just exploring that amazing voice more and more, I love it and can't wait for the new album!!!