Words By Molly Openshaw
I remember the first time I heard a Fall Out Boy song. It was Immortals from their American Beauty/American Psycho album in 2015, I was 14. The teenage angst was in full swing. It was the kind of song that you had to put on repeat to fully appreciate the song, the kind of song that can only be played on full volume.
Fall Out Boy are an American rock band who first emerged in 2001. With that also being the year of my birth, the fact that their albums were the soundtrack of my formative years seems to make sense. With their music combining influences from punk, rock, hip-hop, pop, electro, R&B and soul, their albums are diverse. The band is made up of lead vocalist, Patrick Stump, bassist Pete Wentz, lead guitarist Joe Trohman and drummer Andy Hurley. Pete Wenz wanted his music to have an escapist quality, whilst the rock genre was focusing on moshing rather than the political activism of the early 1990s.
Their debut album Take This to Your Grave was released in 2003 includes songs such as Calm Before the Storm and Sending Postcards from a Plane Crash. This album seems to be one of their more rock/punk influenced albums, being described by Rolling Stone as “mixing caffeinated, up-tempo tunes with sensitive, tortured lyrics” but only really being “run-of-the-mill”. In 2005 their next album From Under the Cork Tree was released, this album is well known for including songs such as Sugar, We’re Goin’ Down and Dance, Dance. The album was their main success and enabled them to fully break into the rock music industry. With the album debuting at number 9 on the US Billboards 200 and making 168,000 sales in the first week, it was their first big break.
In 2007, Fall Out Boy released their third album Infinity on High, whilst including hits such as Thnks Fr Th Mmrs and This Ain’t a Scene, It’s An Arms Race, this album is one of my least favourites. This is mainly because of the pop influence on most of the songs, it seems to detour away from the well-known sound that they are known for. Their fourth album, Folie à Deux, was released in 2008 and again is quite underwhelming in comparison to some of their hits, this album seems to try to blend too many different genres and comes out feeling quite confused.
Maybe it’s because I only started listening to Fall out Boy as a want-to-be punk fourteen-year-old but I think that their greatest hits were released after 2013. Their fifth album Save Rock and Roll is one of Fall Out Boy’s most well-known albums. Rolling Stone described their comeback as a “rather stunning renaissance”. This album followed the band’s hiatus from 2009 until 2013 where the members all explored their individual music careers before coming back with this album. This album stands out with hits such as My Song Know What You Did in the Dark and the namesake single Save Rock and Roll which features Elton John. However, my favourite songs on this album are The Phoenix and Death Valley. These two tracks just remind me of walking to school at age 14 and just having the best time. Not only does this album feature some amazing vocals and some more electronic influences, but the lyrics are also clever, witty and beautiful.
In 2015 they released their sixth album American Beauty/American Psycho. I think that this is usually seen as one of their more mainstream albums with a lot of the songs targeting the pop/rock listeners and opting for more upbeat rhythms. With a special mention to Immortals for initiating my love for the band. This album is great in my opinion, with every song seeming interesting and different despite the more pop-centric sound.
MANIA was released in 2018 as Fall Out Boy’s seventh album. This album sees Fall Out Boy’s move to the more experimental side of electro-punk and their new supporters from their more pop-focused album in 2015. I have a mixed opinion of this album. I love the more electric sound throughout, especially in Young and Menace as it merges the upbeat sounding rhythm with the angsty lyrics and grungy undertones. The album was mainly critiqued for the new sound, as many fans were disappointed to find that this album was less rock and more pop. I think that this album was a nice extension of Fall Out Boy’s already varied repertoire and shows that they can branch out and push the boundaries of the rock genre.
I think that my favourite memory of Fall Out Boy was at Reading Festival in 2018 when they headlined on the main stage. It was my 17th birthday and the first time I was able to see them live; I had the best time. They played a full range of their older music as well as their more recent releases, it was great to see everyone enjoy their music, especially knowing that they have attended the festival in the past but this was their first time as a headlining act.
My dad has always urged me to listen to his favourite songs from his formative years, some favourites being Hotel California by Eagles, Moonage Daydream by David Bowie and Free Bird by Lynyrd Skynyrd. In the car, we would always share our favourite songs and discuss which has the best guitar solos. I think there is a sense of agelessness to Fall Out Boy’s albums, especially because of their diverse genre crossovers and the long list of tracks.
I don’t know why I love Fall Out Boy so much; it might be because it is reminiscent of my early teens or because of their range. Something about the guitars, the shouty lyrics and the electronic melodies makes me smile and nod my head to the music.
Image: Wikimedia Commons