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The Mass Media

This Ain’t Coming in Last, it’s a Definite Winner

Illustration by Amanda Huff
Illustration by Amanda Huff

They were on the cover of Spin Magazine’s March issue. They are on the cover of the Rolling Stone issue for the week of March 8. They are four boys hailing from the suburbs of Chicago, who started out with a majority of people disliking them, and, as stated in their song “Thriller,” are now being made into “poster boys for [the] scene.”

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you: Fall Out Boy.

The quartet’s latest release, Infinity on High, named from a portion of a letter that artist Vincent van Gogh sent to his brother, shot to the top of the charts soon after being released, and the first single, “This Ain’t a Scene, it’s an Arms Race,” has also seen such success.

And with no wonder as to why.

Fueled by Ramen’s wonder boys’ fifth album shows a progression that’s noticeable if listening from the beginning of their discography. All the way back to 2003’s Fall Out Boy’s Evening Out with Your Girlfriend, the common threads are the intelligent lyrics, the majority of which are penned by bassist Pete Wentz, and not forgetting where their background lies, with singer Patrick Stump working on the majority of the musical composition.

The evident pop-punk feel to Fall Out Boy’s music is still very much alive in Infinity on High, yet, with the experimentation like working with R&B producer Babyface on the tracks “I’m Like a Lawyer with the Way I’m Always Trying to Get You Off (Me and You)” and “Thnks fr th Mmrs,” it is obvious that these boys are not going to let style get in the way of their substance.

Since I got the album that Island Records sent to us, I’ve been listening to it, for the most part, nonstop. Every song is just that good. From the first track, “Thriller,” which acts as a sort of “State of the Union” address, complete with an introduction from Island Records’ president Jay-Z, all the way to the ending “I’ve Got All This Ringing in My Ears and None on my Fingers,” there isn’t a single track that I think of skipping.

Besides “This Ain’t a Scene, it’s an Arms Race,” the two songs that struck me as the most different are “Hum Hallelujah” and “Thnks fr th Mmrs.” “Hum Hallelujah” comes complete with a small choir sound in the background during the chorus. Also, I can’t help but think that the line “Sometimes we take chances/Sometimes we take pills” is somehow a reference to Wentz’s suicide attempt by way of overdosing on the anti-anxiety medication Atavan, which was also the subject of the song “Seven Minutes in Heaven (Atavan Halen)” on 2005’s From Under the Cork Tree.

“Thnks fr th Mmrs,” the phrase “thanks for the memories” minus the vowels and the next single to be released, begins with Stump and Wentz singing almost a Capella, and has Stump singing in various ranges, with his voice sounding deeper and a bit more soulful in some portions of the song.

Wentz stated himself in an interview (I’m thinking it was the interview in Spin magazine) that the band realizes that things are changing in the music industry, and that there’s no sense in not branching out and reaching to any influence available. Thus explaining their work with Babyface and having Jay-Z introduce the first track of the album. They’ve worked to combine styles that most people find as clashing, and have made it work very well.

I’m so glad that they have. I have about 70 songs on my mp3 player that are attributed to Fall Out Boy, and while the songs that are on Infinity on High stand out from those off of their previous releases, the “changes” the boys have made are only positive. I think that, had Stump, Wentz, Andy Hurley and Joe Trohman decided to stick with what their straight up pop punk, it might be as though they were trapped in a formula for music, and they might get stale and fade away.

Which is the last thing they need to do.

With such talent at what they do, there is absolutely no doubt that these four guys from Wilmette, Illinois will stick around in the “scene” for a long time to come. I couldn’t be happier.

I don’t have enough room to discuss every song, because each one is genius in its own right. I love Fall Out Boy and Infinity on High so much, that I bought myself a legitimate copy. I encourage everyone to do the same.