Sound — 7
On first hearing "I Don't Care" when it was released as a single I was shocked. Not necessarily negatively, but I knew instantly that Fall Out Boy had departed even further from their earlier sound and that this album would be controversial amongst listeners. We heard about the friction between the band members in the studio, although the chemistry between them doesn't come across fragmentated on the album. Far more "tweaked" and "polished" than their past material which some may see as a downside; I think it was overdone to a small extent but where it is done well it is highly effective and gives certain tracks like "Headfist Slide into Cooperstown on a Bad Bet" a rich and sensual sound. Strange adjectives but considering the subject of the songs, I think they were spot on with some of the tracks. Elements of strange elevator music pop "W.A.M.S" (although the last 30seconds are a refreshing departure), choral music, dabbling in hip-hop "Tiffany Blews" and classic piano ballads "Disloyal Order of Water Buffaloes"; it appears as though Fall Out Boy threw a load of interesting musical elements into the mixing pot and the tracks that were created were very much hit and miss with the experimenting.
Lyrics — 8
Wentz has become infamous for his ironic storytelling abilities and self-centred arrogance in his lyrics. Although he claims the album is mainly political, I think the subtlty of the message was mostly missed by the average listener and it could easily be interpreted as having major themes of love, betrayal, jealousy and apathy. In that way, I think it was disappointing that they were attempting to branch out lyrically and didn't quite succeed. However, although what they do have lyrically is nothing spectacularly different or mind-blowing for them; they have been consistently witty with song lyrics and so in that way I was very impressed.
Overall Impression — 8
I was given the deluxe version as a birthday present and on listening to it as a whole; it had me dancing around my room for major parts of it. It is mostly up tempo with heavy beats that stride foward supported by catchy (I hate to say it, because it doesn't make the record horrible to listen to) guitars riffs and the occassional well-thought and unusual chord sequence. Everyone appears to be on good form here; but somehow Stump with his quiet genius manages to outshine them all. As the composer, rhythm guitarist and lead singer, it is not suprising that Stump is the main focus of all the tracks. But not only that; he seems to give everything to every syllable and scat. In my opinion; it is his passion and determination to give the listener an orgasm for the ears that makes this record. I would classify myself as a Fall Out Boy fan, I would even go so far as to say they are my favourite band; however this album's ability to whip me into a frenzy mellowed after a few months. I love the familiarity of Fall Out Boy's sound embedded in the hit and miss experimentation and I love the acoustic version of "America's Suitehearts" over the full track. I think Fall Out Boy sound their best when stripped down and more of that should have been on this album to counter balance the studio-enhanced sound that seeped through a lot. If it were lost or stolen (I don't know any thieves with Fall Out Boy fetishes but hey) I would buy it again although I probably wouldn't buy the deluxe version because the two hideous remixes are the most unbareable minutes of anything I've heard and the other acoustics and one original bonus are a once listen on the internet in my opinion. There are far worse things in the charts and I think that regardless of your opinion on the band; tracks that work: "What a Catch, Donnie" (a dramatic and passionate piano-based build up), "27" (the best if standard Fall Out Boy formulated track on the album), "She's My Winona" (for the middle-8 and head-bopping drum beat)and "Headfirst Slide into Cooperstown on a Bad Bet" (for Stump's impressive vocal range). The others should be listened to, if only to have a musical gauge of how too musch experimentation can lead a band astray. Live and learn. Hopefully their hiatus will be a big learning curb.