You dread when you hear it on the radio because you know it is going to be stuck in your head for the rest of the day. Yet when the first riffs mixed with syncopated drum beats hit your speakers and you start asking yourself, “Am I more than you bargained for yet?” rather than changing the dial, you know you’re stuck already and every few minutes until you sleep that night will be a chorus of Fall Out Boy’s “Sugar, We’re Going Down.”
Despite how you might feel about Fall Out Boy, there is no denying they have a tendency to be infectious. Now their fourth album, “Folie A Deux,” is out in stores and the first just-as-catchy single “I Don’t Care” has already hit the airwaves. Whether this latest record will go down in history as the biggest sell out of the generation or punk-emo martyrs for the masses has yet to be determined, but try and find someone who doesn’t know the words to one of their songs. Just try.
When the Chicago foursome first got together in 2001, they had no idea they’d turn out to be a tour de force of the emerging music scene. The group started when guitarist Joe Trohman and bassist Pete Wentz decided to leave their previous hardcore bands to pursue more melodic musical initiatives.
Trohman passed Wentz along to young, extreme side-burned future vocalist Patrick Stump, but the band didn’t finalize their line up with drummer Andy Hurley until they went into the studio to record their debut full length “Take This To Your Grave”.
The album was the bleeding heart soundtrack for “emo” kids everywhere, starting with a large cult-like following in small clubs in Chicago and gradually spreading outwards. The sound was rough and unpolished, but catchy. It was really the heartbreaking honesty of songwriter and band spokesperson Wentz’s lyrics that captured the attention of every teenager out there that was dissatisfied with the tragic life of suburbia and needed a more potent therapy than the Good Charlotte and Simple Plan themes blasting from the airwaves at the time.
Songs like “Grand Theft Autumn (Where Is Your Boy)” and “Dead On Arrival” with words like, “I’m willing to take my chances on the hope I forget you hate him more than you notice I wrote this for you” and “I know I’m not your favorite record but the songs you grow to like never stick at first so I’m writing you a chorus” began finding themselves on mix CDs, scribbled on notebooks, and being screamed out by kids packed like sardines into small clubs across the country.
It was only a matter of time before the Wilmette, Illinois quartet was a household (or rather chat room) name for every young person daring to call him- or herself “scene”.
Fall Out Boy spent two years touring behind “Take This To Your Grave” before returning to the studio to make its follow-up: “From Under The Cork Tree” (the title borrowed from “The Story of Ferdinand” by Munro Leaf, one of Wentz’s favorite childhood books).
Having grown up a bit from playing the local venues of downtown Chicago, “From Under the Cork Tree” came out with a much more mature sound. The guitars are tighter and overall musicianship was stepped up a notch as Stump seemed to be growing comfortably into his roll as arranger for the band.
The sophomore album was a display of growth for the boys, a snapshot of the past two years of their lives featuring appearances from hometown buddy and The Academy Is… lead singer William Beckett and a fresh out of high school Panic(!) at the Disco front man Brendon Urie. “From Under the Cork Tree” also debuted FOB’s first attempt at a slow song (“I’ve Got A Dark Alley and a Bad Idea That Says You Should Shut Your Mouth (summer song)”) and Wentz once again delivered with lyrics that went straight to the soul of every angsty kid who had ever felt not good enough, “I took a shot and didn’t even come close at love and hope. And the poets are just the kids who didn’t make it, who never had it at all.”