Fall Out Boy is a guilty pleasure. While their albums have gone from care-free punk (Take This To Your Grave), to pop-chart ditties (From Under the Cork Tree), and most recently, to groovy rock (Infinity On High), they have always maintained a consistent formula- excellent vocals from Patrick Stump, insanely catchy choruses and guitar riffs, and clever lyrics.
On Folie A Deux, FOB tries to keep the same formula, but strangely, it just doesn't work as well. The hooks aren't hooky. The catchy choruses aren't too catchy. The clever lyrics aren't that clever. Folie A Deux does have its strong, classic FOB moments, but too much of the album falls into repetitiveness.
The album starts off promisingly enough, with Stump crooning over organs, building to power chords straight out of "Baba O'Reilly" on the epic "Disloyal Order of Water Buffaloes." With its defining lyric, "Nobody wants to hear you sing about tragedy," and its massive feel, "Disloyal Order" is an album highlight reminiscent of Infinity's "Thriller."
But after the song ends, the album slips into silliness. Actually, before the song finishes: the shout-along of "Detox- just to retox!" sounds childish for a band trying to mature. That trend continues with Folie's first single, "I Don't Care." The chant-along of "I Don't Care" doesn't sound cool, but juvenile. The song has a fun, electro-rock beat, but it grows into an unmemorable chorus that will please the mainstream radio crowd, but will disappoint fans looking for something different.
This is the case with most of the album. "I know you've heard this all before," sings Stump on "America's Suitehearts," and unfortunately, I feel like I have. "The same old song," Stump croons on "The (Shipped) Gold Standard," and I feel like it is. These tracks may be pleasing to the ears, but that doesn't mean they are good. On past albums, songs like these had choruses you could remember after one listen, and want to sing along with on the next. On Folie, the choruses are not as catchy, and there's barely a desire to sing along. Unless of course, you are a tween girl.
But as I said, there are extreme highlights. "What A Catch, Donnie," with vocal contributions from Brendan Urie, Elvis Costello, and Travis McCoy has a bombastic and (finally) memorable hook. At the end, when the guest stars begin to chant some older Fall Out Boy hits, you get the feel that FOB was actually having some fun with this one. And they're at their best when they are having fun.
This is extremely evident on "20 Dollar Nose Bleed." When the tune's steady piano beat kicked in, it's extremely refreshing. I always felt that FOB had the potential to make great piano power-pop like The Hush Sound. And with "Nose Bleed" they prove that they can- the excellent duet between Stump and Panic's own Brendan Urie doesn't hurt either.
"She's My Winona" is another highlight, and a return to old-school Fall Out Boy style. Insanely catchy "oh-ohs" are littered throughout the song.
"Headfirst Slide into Cooperstown On A Bad Bet" is one more track that works- Stump plays around with his vocals, reaching way down out of his typical range to match the song's dark chords. The song switches gears very well- going from a Maroon Five groove, to a piano ballad, to a typical Fall Out Boy chorus.
But let's not praise Folie A Deux too much. "Tiffany Blews" has a great first 14 seconds, but the song as a whole misses the mark. The unnecessary Lil' Wayne cameo (no joke) doesn't add anything. "27" tries to sound different, but even a few F-bombs from Stump can't hide the unmistakable FOB formula.
Tracks that could be great, like "( Coffee's For Closers)", overstay their welcome (the song did not need to be six minutes). And album closer "West Coast Smokers," with its poorly thrown in screeching from Pete Wentz (have I really gone a full Fall Out Boy review without mentioning Pete Wentz? Nice!) also falls flat.
Fall Out Boy is a very good band, Patrick Stump is an excellent frontman, and Folie A Deux has some great moments. But the bad easily cancels out the good, making for a very mediocre album. As I said earlier, the band has always been a guilty pleasure. The problem with Folie A Deux is that half of the songs just aren't that pleasurable. Download the five-six songs in which FOB shows off their true potential and let's hope that their next album will be a little more consistent.