What’s the first thing you want to hear on the new Fall Out Boy album? Unless you answered Jay-Z, your answer is wrong. Jay-Z helps the boys out by dedicating the album to “anybody who said we couldn’t make it”, which is always nice, spit in the face of your enemies before thanking your friends.
After the success of From Under the Cork Tree, expectations were high for Fall Out Boy’s follow up. Infinity on High is the result, and it’s the sound of a band trying to be everything to everyone. But that doesn’t quite work for them, because more than wanting to impress their audience, they’re in love with themselves.
And it shows. There are pretensions abound here. As mentioned, there’s the Jay-Z cameo, a chorus singing “Hallelujah” in “Hum Hallelujah”. Self-deprecating lyrics sung with hollowness, because singer Patrick Stump doesn’t really mean it. You can tell they were impressed with themselves after coming up with some of the needlessly long and pretentious song titles (“I’m Like a Lawyer with the Way I’m Always Trying to Get You Off (Me + You)” anyone?).
Infinity on High is pop-punk by numbers. It’s a precisely calculated album; almost every song averages 3.5 minutes and rigidly follows the same structure. That’s not to say it’s completely unlistenable. “This Ain’t a Scene, it’s an Arms Race” is a catchy song, as is the sing-along-y “Bang the Doledrums”.
Fall Out Boy is not untalented, but they don’t seem to have a grasp on what makes a good song, and they seem to mistake adding Jay-Z and a lot of synthesizers as growing musically.