Album Review: Fall Out Boy, “From Under The Cork Tree” (2005)

Fall Out Boy first caught my attention sometime last summer, though the band (Patrick Stump, Pete Wentz, Joe Trohman, Andy Hurley) had been on the indie scene in Chicago since early 2001. With an album and two EPs under their belt, it was about time that Fall Out Boy hit mainstream success with their sophomore release From Under The Cork Tree.

Fall Out Boy’s sound is a bit indescribable (it could be categorized as anything from punk, rock, alternative, emo, or indie), though that seems to work well for most of the album. Stump plays as the (sometimes good) lead vocalist, while Wentz, who is also the bassist, provides the (sometimes clever) lyrics.

The album begins with Our Lawyer Made Us Change The Name Of This Song So We Wouldn’t Get Sued. Yes, the song title is that long. And yes, it’s funny. In fact, most of the songs on the album have very long (and sometimes) funny titles. It’s great until you’re trying to tell one of your friends about a song on the album.

“So which song did you like on the new Fall Out Boy CD?”

“Uhm…I don’t remember the name. You know, that one with the really long title.”

Yeah…causes a bit of confusion (especially in the age of iPods. Who really notices which “track number” you’re listening to anyway? I usually just pay attention to the song’s title).

Anyway Our Lawyer starts off with a nice guitar hook from Trohman. The boys immediately establish their lightheartedness with cheeky lines like “Brothers and sisters put this record down/Take my advice (’cause we are bad news)/We will leave you high and dry/It’s not worth the hearing you’ll lose”. Paired with a catchy chorus and nice vocals from Stump and Wentz, the song provides a great opener for the album.

Of All The Gin Joints In The World follows with another great guitar hook and drum loop from Hurley. Again, the song boasts a catchy chorus, though isn’t much of a standout track when paired against the stronger ones on the album.

Two of them happen to be the two lead singles, Dance Dance and Sugar We’re Going Down. Dance Dance starts off with a pulsating beat that sounds like it should be heard somewhere in a club. The tempo kicks up a notch by the chorus, and provides for a fun track that really does make me want to dance. The song is filled with slick lyrics, but perhaps the best line lies in the bridge: “I only want sympathy in the form of you crawling into bed with me”.

Sugar, We’re Going Down is another great track. The song has the exact ingredient for a radio hit- simple and clear vocals (well, sometimes. Some of my friends still argue with me about the line in the chorus- it’s “loaded God complex”, not “loaded gun complex”, though the latter makes just as much sense), great guitar and drums, and of course, those oh-so-fun lyrics (“I’ve been dying to tell you anything you want to hear/Cause that’s just who I am this week/…I’m just a notch in your bedpost/But you’re just a line in a song/…Oh don’t mind me I’m watching you two from the closet/Wishing to be the friction in your jeans”).

Patrick Stump 2009

The jealousy theme continues with Nobody Puts Baby In The Corner. The song kicks right off with guitar and pulls us into an up-tempo, bouncy melody. Stump’s vocals and Wentz’s backing vocals are really nice in this song- especially during the bridge. Anyway, this track is one of my favorites. The chorus (with another killer guitar hook! Trohman is definitely talented) is quite an ear worm and again, the lyrics are fresh and clever (“I’ll be your best kept secret and your biggest mistake/…so wear me like a locket around your throat/I’ll weigh you down, I’ll watch you choke/You look so good in blue”).

Things temporarily go downhill with I’ve Got A Dark Alley and 7 Minutes In Heaven. The first of the two is slower paced, and a bit of a bore. The vocals are colorless, and even the lyrics seem a bit lifeless. 7 Minutes In Heaven is worse; the beat is loud and annoying (what is up with all those cymbals crashing during the chorus?!), and Stump’s voice starts to become grating by the second verse.

Sophomore Slump Or Comeback Of The Year isn’t much better than either of those tracks, but I like it a lot more (partially due to the fact that it reminds me of the Cartel song, Burn This City, which I really like). True, lyrics like “Take our tears, put them on ice/Cause I swear I’d burn this city down to show you the light” don’t do much to inspire me in any way, but the light melody and overall breeziness of the track makes it worth listening to.

The album goes right back down with Champagne For My Real Friends, I Slept With Someone In Fall Out Boy And All I Got Was The Stupid Song Written About Me (don’t let that title fool you- the song isn’t nearly as funny or interesting as it’s moniker), and the single, A Little Less Sixteen Candles (which I still don’t understand why it was chosen for a single- there are far better songs to represent the album!). All three songs sound the same, with the same sounding guitar and drum, and dull lyrics.

However, the album once again pulls back up (see what I meant by the album being inconsistent?) with Get Busy Living Or Get Busy Dying, a track written for an ex-friend or lover. This is another one of my favorites. The song is mid-tempo, with soft guitar and more pronounced vocals from Stump. Lines like, “If you are the shores, I am the waves begging for big moons” and “I know this hurts, it was meant to/Your secret’s out and the best part is it isn’t even a good one/And it’s mind over you don’t, don’t matter” give the song a refreshing feeling. The track has a very sinister vibe, and you get the impression that whomever Wentz wrote the song for made him very angry.

The disc comes to a close with XO. Faced paced and with a foot taping beat, the track is easily one of my favorites. The song is about having a one-night stand with a fan (“I comb the crowd and pick you out/My mouth moves too fast for you to figure it out/…Through the keyholes I watched you dress/Kiss and tell”), which sounds really bad, but Stump sounds a bit apologetic and regretful towards the end of the track (“To the love, I left my conscience pressed/Between the pages of the Bible in the drawer”).

From Under The Cork Tree is a good album, but isn’t quite enough to get me hooked on Fall Out Boy’s music. I’d like to hear what they’ll do with their next album or take a chance on some of their earlier work before calling myself a fan of theirs.

Rating: 3_stars.svg

Track Listing
1. Our Lawyer Made Us Change The Name Of This Song So We Wouldn’t Get Sued
2. Of All The Gin Joints In All The World
3. Dance, Dance
4. Sugar, We’re Goin Down
5. Nobody Puts Baby In The Corner
6. I’ve Got A Dark Alley And A Bad Idea That Says You Should Shut Your Mouth (Summer Song)
7. 7 Minutes In Heaven (Atavan Halen)
8. Sophomore Slump Or Comeback Of The Year
9. Champagne For My Real Friends, Real Pain For My Sham Friends
10. I Slept With Someone In Fall Out Boy And All I Got Was This Stupid Song Written About Me
11. A Little Less Sixteen Candles, A Little More “Touch Me”
12. Get Busy Living Or Get Busy Dying (Do Your Part To Save The Scene And Stop Going To Shows)
13. XO

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