Sound — 10
I've always wondered, how come all of those bands, who never ever though of becoming famous and "just wanted to play music" all of the sudden record a great album and sign up with a major label, when all of those, who are desperate for a little bit of fame and success stay local stars forever? So, here's another "Cinderella story": pieces of different hardcore bands -- Patrick Stump (guitar, vocals), Pete Wentz (guitar), Joe Trohman (bass), Andy Hurlay (drums) -- got together in 2001 to "do something different with no intention of it ever becoming anything" according to Wentz. The band even got they name by occasion -- with the help of some fan. On their second concert they asked the crowd about the name for themselves and someone screamed out "Fall Out Boy." Chicago guys had to try hard to get to the major scene, so they chose the easiest and approved way -- recorded three demo songs and sent them to every possible record label (without even thinking about getting famous. Eventually in 2003 they recorded their debut "Take This To Your Grave" on Fueled by Ramen. Singles such "Grand Theft Autumn (Where Is Your Boy)" and airplay on Fuse and MTVU helped them to sell 200,000 copies of the CD. To release their major label debut, Fall Out Boy had to join forces with Island Records. The second album "From Under The Cork Tree" was out in May 2005 and debuted on the Billboard charts at #9. The record was produced by Neal Avron, who's worked with A New Found Glory. One of the big differences on the current album is that all the members of the band were involved in the songwriting process, unlike "Take This To Your Grave," where the only authors were Stump and Wentz. As a result, they had 25 songs to choose from. And they did quite good job -- none of the songs sound like a filler. The music can be described by all different kinds of music styles -- punk, pop, emo, alt rock. Whatever it is, the music is very melody oriented and there are a lot of subtle instrumentations, that aren't obvious, but add beauty to the sound. The album is full of razor-sharp melodies and punchy cords. Most of the songs are catchy and dancy. Layers of guitars make the music sound very melodic. From the first listen it gets obvious that "Sugar, We're Going Down" is the best and catchiest song on the album. You get lost in those [o] and [u] sounds -- earlier, round, bullet, pull it. Amazing, how all the worlds get into a big wonderful mess of sounds, that you don't even pay attention to the meaning. Though the best thing about the song is that it doesn't end with the words "Cock it and pull it" and there's a piece of music after that. The next great song is fast-paced "Dance Dance." Immediately from the intro you get the feeling there's something different about the song. The music and vocals are very intense and the chorus is very catchy. A very good choice for a single.
Lyrics — 10
As seen on the previouse album, here the song titles are long as hell and ironic. So are the lyrics of the songs. Stump shoot out tumbling words in every song and sometimes it sounds like a lengthy tongue-twister. But surprisingly it doesn't sound like a big goofy mess or a diarrhea of words. I must admit, here Fall Out Boy are genius. Dark sense of humor adds a certain flavor to the music. The lyrics are mostly bitter, but never depressive or witty. Patrick Stump's voice is not something extraordinary, but he does his job well. He might not have the best vocal abilities, but he presents his voice very skill-wise -- he knows where it needs to be light, where strong, edgy or melodic. Backvocals are a perfect fit and very well-produced too.
Overall Impression — 8
The current record has a deep philosophy behind the title. The idea came from Pete Wentz -- when he was a little boy, his fave book was "The Story Of Ferdinand" by Munro Leaf. It's a story about a bull, who sits under a cork tree and smells flowers instead of getting into a ring and battling a bullfighter. "I think it's an amazing metaphor for how people can be," Wentz says. "There's something really honorable about following your own path and not doing what's expected of you." Well, nice it's not just a dull name of the main song on the album! Comparing to their debut indie record, the band outbid themselves on this one. I can't say there's a single song I didn't enjoy. The album goes very smoothly, not a song falls out of the contest of the record. "From Under The Cork Tree" has a lot of nice features appearing here and there all through the album that doesn't let you get bored. What the album misses is a good slow love-song. Something very remarkable about bitchy ex-girlfriend or a beautiful princess that lives next door, something that would became the second single after a fast-paced first single. Or maybe it's just a cliche? "I've Got A Dark Alley And A Bad Idea That Says You Should Shut Your Mouth," that is supposed to be the "love-song" of the album, is too lazy-slow for that part, like every summer song.