Fall Out Boy announced this week that they are returning from their hiatus with a new album and tour. Their reunion is to “Save Rock and Roll” they say, because rock music always sends out distress signals every few years. The pessimist in me believes that the members of Fall Out Boy are running low on money and because their personal solo projects never took off, they’re willing to put aside their personal differences for the sake of their bank accounts. We get it and most people expected this day to come.
Along with the announcement came a new song — “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light ‘Em Up).” The video (below) features 2Chainz and some fine ladies literally burning the old Fall Out Boy image. Cliched, but effective. The song itself doesn’t blow me away. Patrick Stump sounds great, but the production and lyrics are overwrought and think they’re a much better than they actually are — another sign of a typical Fall Out Boy single.
I remember seeing Fall Out Boy open for Mest twice in one week back in 2003/4 (I think). I could see then that they were going to be the next big scene band. I didn’t think they’d achieve the crossover success that they attained with “Sugar, We’re Going Down.” From there, the band became huge and naturally, I hated them for it. I was young, jealous and thought other pop punk bands were more deserving of the spot light. I hated Pete Wentz for wanting to always be the front man and after seeing them again a few years later when they opened for Blink-182, I was happy to see that FOB had actually gotten worse as a live band.
For some reason though, once they went on hiatus after Folie a Deux, it felt safer to revisit their catalog a second chance, especially since songs like “A Little Less Sixteen Candles…” and “Grand Theft Autumn” were super catchy and fun songs. What I found were some really great album tracks. Fall Out Boy is a great studio band. This is mainly due to the songwriting talents of Patrick Stump. His songs and melodies paired with Wentz’s lyrics are pop punk gold. This is what gets lost in much of the Fall Out Boy hype. They are a polarizing band, but if you judge them on their albums, and more specifically their non-singles, it’s hard to deny their lightning in a bottle type genius.
This is why I want to wait until Save Rock and Roll is officially released to pass judgement. “My Songs…” is just one track on the record, similar to “I Don’t Care” or “Thks fr th Mmrs” — two ambitious and marginal songs, released as singles that pale in comparison to some of the other songs on their respective albums. So with that in mind, in honor of the massive-huge-OMG news, below are my top five deep cuts from Fall Out Boy’s catalog, followed by a more extensive playlist.
[“The Take Over, The Breaks Over” and “A Little Less Sixteen Candles, A Little More Touch Me” are definitely Top 5 FOB songs for me, but both were eventually released as singles for their respective albums.]
5. “She’s My Winona” – Folie a Deux
Pete Wentz grows up and writes an honest song about being a father. Stump’s delivery during the hip-hop inspired verses is brilliant. His vocal range and inflections are so beyond what everyone else in their genre is doing.
4. “Thriller” – Infinity on High
The big ‘f you’ song to their haters. Jay-Z (then head of Island/Def Jam) intros the track and then the band acknowledges its hardcore roots. They were way ahead of the social media frenzy: “Every dot com’s refreshing for a journal update.”
3. “Disloyal Order of Water Buffaloes” – Folie a Deux
The evolution of a pop-punk band. Stump is a beast on this track. “Detox to Retox” is the motto of a generation.
2. “Hum Hallelujah” – Infinity on High
“I can write it better than you ever felt it.” That right there is Fall Out Boy’s self-referential mission statement. Why write about your own experiences when you’re so in touch with your fan base that it’s easier (and better) to deliver what your core audience wants? Pete Wentz may be a douche bag, but he’s smart.
1. “20 Dollar Nose Bleed” – Folie a Deux
Listen to this song, then read this piece from The Atlantic on Benzedrine, then listen to the song again. Fascinating. The addition of the brass in the post-chorus puts this song over the edge for me. The arrangement is just on another level. (But seriously, the poem tacked on to the end of the track is lame).
The lyrics speak to Wentz’s ability to craft lyrics that don’t speak down to the audience. It’s also probably the most overt illusion to their impending hiatus. Wentz was burned out. Relationships were strained. The band needed a break. It’s probably time to also credit Fall Out Boy’s long-time producer Neal Avron for his outstanding work. Avron is a legend in the pop-punk scene but he has been able to harness Stump and Wentz and push them to heights never imagined (especially since Take This to Your Grave).
Listen to the essential FOB playlist below or on Spotify.