Sound — 7
Fall Out Boy entered the studio for recording of "Folie A Deux" (2008) after a bizarre relationship with the media (reflected in some of "Infinity On High", 2007 and the Great Wentz Reveal of 2006) and an apparent need to prove something (again, "Infinity"). With 2007's critically lukewarm release, the band's fanbase began to split between pretentious "I was listening to their terrible EP in the old days" fans and the obnoxious "I love Fall Out Boy's whole collection; both 'This Ain't A Scene' AND 'Thnks Fr Th Mmrs'" type. Whether this impacted the follow-up or not is up for debate, though singer/guitarist Patrick Stump stated that he intended for "Folie" to feature a bit less... Well, him. Bizarrely enough, he seems to believe there was anything else featured on "Infinity" worth listening to. At the outset of "Folie", the band has clearly taken an entirely new (for them) direction, though 70s-80s glam-lovers will certainly pick up on the Van Halen stomp in "Disloyal Order Of Water Buffaloes". Similarly, "Headfirst Slide Into Cooperstown On A Bad Bet" has some of the same hooks as the bands in the generation just preceding Fall Out Boy (namely, those who grew up on 80s hits). Die-hard fans of 2005's "From Under The Cork Tree" will probably whine distressing stories from the band report booing from crowds when they performed new songs. Shows you what they know. Contrary to the outcry from whatever very vocal group of bubblegum punk lovers, "Folie" is undoubtedly the band's strongest release to date. The multi-layered instrumentation, creative insertion of various inspiration (from Prince to Billy Joel), and overall performances - even from Wentz this time! - delight from the first cut to the abrupt drop into silence at the end of "West Coast Smoker". Fall Out Boy's guitar work hasn't generally been bad; here, it's often marvelous. Drummer Andy Hurley steps into the spotlight more often than before. Rather than directly follow or out-Infinity "Infinity", the band takes more chances and succeeds with greater results than ever before. Unlike "Infinity", few songs (if any) muddle into the rest; each has a readily distinguishable character. "She's My Winona" is an alternation between typical Fall Out Boy chorus (particularly with the guitar) and an entirely new funk; "Tiffany Blews" is a sensual groove with a hint of danger; at the center of the record is the impossibly good "What A Catch, Donnie", one of the record's only autobiographical tracks with a "Hey, Jude" recollection of the band's previous work near the end and an astounding performance from Stump. "America's Suitehearts" rolls in with a delightful dream sequence of harmonies, later revisited in "W.A.M.S.", which includes a capella work from Stump. Despite Generation Y's outrageous entitlement to "being there first", anyone still rocking "Take This To Your Grave" is in for a sore disappointment Fall Out Boy has moved on to bigger and better things. If "From Under The Cork Tree" was last year's "The Clash", this is "London Calling". It's simply more fun, and there's more fun to be had more substance. The composition especially has taken an incredible leap, rivaling 2000s giants "American Idiot" and "The Black Parade". "Folie A Deux" finally moves Fall Out Boy out of the basements of 14-year-olds and one step closer to truly deserved superstardom.
Lyrics — 7
Stump's "less me" desire certainly didn't seem to make it all the way through the door; the record showcases his abilities in a greater capacity than any previous release, whether vocally or musically. This is neither a burden nor an obstruction; as an incredibly capable singer, Stump powerfully highlights bassist Pete Wentz's vocals, whether music accompanies or not (see hidden opener "Lullabye"). If anything, Stump is the band's greatest asset various members have, at times, described him as the "mad scientist" of composition within the band. Nowhere is his musical deftness, or his vocal talent, more evident than on "Folie". Stump has occasionally showcased soul-inspired vocals with Fall Out Boy, most notably on "Infinity"'s lead single, "This Ain't A Scene, It's An Arms Race", even parodying himself forcefully belting in its music video. With "Folie A Deux", what Stump later coined as "soul punk" is in full effect, from thrilling vibrato to incredible tenor range ("The (Shipped) Gold Standard"). Duality between the stylistic shifts in the music and Stump's vocal work is a sound to behold; while the band's singles have been catchy, never before has any track been entirely worth listening to purely for the work put into it. Wentz steps up with his lyrical work as well, though has done so to some degree with each release. "Folie" is less of the band's typical sexed-up failed romance though shadows of it are present in "27" and more of "Grave"'s self-doubt mixed with inflated ego and a healthy dose of social commentary. Tracks like "(Coffee's For Closers)" suggest the mutual benefit between salespeople and their customers; each needing the other and so on; Western fascination with its broken idols is spotlighted in "America's Suitehearts". All in all, it isn't necessarily more profound than anything Wentz has written before, but it puts the band's narrator in a position of greater self-awareness. "Folie A Deux" sees a vocally realized and lyrically mature Fall Out Boy; Stump certainly didn't keep his promise to step aside (or so), and the record is better for it. Wentz seemed to finally put aside his fascination with himself (it was all over "Infinity") and finally put the cliches and tongue-in-cheek commentary to work. A few guest vocalists ("What A Catch, Donnie" features Elvis Costello and others; "20 Dollar Nosebleed" is a duet with Panic! At The Disco's Brendon Urie, "Tiffany Blews" briefly spotlights Lil Wayne) do litter the record, and don't altogether add much, though "Nosebleed" further layers the record with a slightly musical theatre bounce. The moments pass quickly enough that they don't invade, and with or without them, this is a bigger and better band for both lyrical and vocal work.
Overall Impression — 8
Critics of "Folie A Deux" claim the record falls too far from the band's roots, or submit the age-old "it just isn't them". On the contrary, with this release, the band again proves its capabilities and utter security in the bigger world of music. Never before has their identity been more certain, never before have they produced such eloquently constructed music. The vaguely concept-album feel is not only tackled by the band; it is mastered. "Folie A Deux" finally gives Fall Out Boy access to the best-of-the-2000s club, alongside Muse and Radiohead (admittedly without, in each case, the Twilight connection). Patrick Stump especially steps to the plate with big names like Kanye West, Tom Waits t-shirt in hand. With "Save Rock And Roll" coming in 2013, the band may find difficulty scaling the heights this album reaches. Undoubtedly, listeners will enjoy the ride.