From Under the Cork Tree – Fall Out Boy

corktree

It’s easy to dismiss Fall Out Boy due to the over-saturation of coverage about them and their reliance, specifically Pete Wentz’s reliance, on image over substance. However, the album that made them the powerhouse that they are today, From Under the Cork Tree, is so finely crafted that it’s hard for even the most cynical hater to completely dismiss it.

From Under the Cork Tree has one major strength – its instrumental arrangements are superb. Vocalist/guitarist Patrick Stump, who writes the music for the band, has a touch for detail and variation that far surpasses most of his genre’s peers. Each song has it’s own distinct sound while maintaining a hooky stickiness. The range encompasses everything from Van Halen-esque staccato guitar on “7 Minutes In Heaven (Atavan Halen)” to heavy sound of sliding drop D chords on the excellent “A Little Less Sixteen Candles, A Little More ‘Touch Me’.”

The main issue of contention with From Under the Cork Tree is the lyrical work. While Stump handles the music, it’s bassist Pete Wentz who handles the lyrics with varying levels of success. One moment catchy and clever wordplay is forefront and then out of nowhere come lines that are stomach churningly bad.

When the lyrics are going right they touch at precise imagery of bitterness or head over heels swooning. “Sugar, We’re Goin’ Down”‘s, “I’m just a notch in your bedpost, but you’re just a line in a song,” is an example of the former, while “Nobody Puts Baby In The Corner”‘s “Keep quiet, nothing comes as easy as you. Can I lay in your bed all day? I’ll be your best kept secret and your biggest mistake…” expresses the latter.

However, (probably unsurprisingly considering all the terribly over-verbose song titles) Wentz has a tendency to fall back on the type of horrid lyrics that give modern emo such a bad name. This ranges from poorly executed metaphors to the “woe is me” type self-loathing.

This reaches it’s bottom point on “I Slept With Someone In Fall Out Boy And All I Got Was This Stupid Song Written About Me” and “Get Busy Living Or Get Busy Dying (Do Your Part To Save The Scene And Stop Going To Shows),” both of which feature ghastly screamo bridges. “Get Busy…” even ends with a spoken word poem that’s borderline comedy because it’s so putrid.

In the end, though, the Wentz’s gaffs are not a huge issue. Thanks to some slick stereo production and Stump’s arrangements, From Under the Cork Tree is an album that is memorable and proves that the band deserved success.

Album Rating: 8.5

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