Before I heard this album, I already knew that it had to be amazing. See, the debut for these guys is what I would give to people as a definition of “pop punk”. I am not saying Fall Out Boy is the greatest band ever, just that to me, their sound is how pop punk should sound. Also I felt that this album would have to change that sound of Fall Out Boy. Basically, my expectation for From Under the Cork Tree was that it would redefine the genre. I know that is a lot to ask, but I felt that if the band just did a repeat of Take This to Your Grave, their success would be short-lived. That being said, I can finally get on to what my opinion is of this album.
The first song is a great intro, but the words should be taken with a grain of salt. The lyrics are great, but unlike Wentz (bass, songwriter), I cannot recommend for you to “put this record down”. For all intents and purposes, though, “Our Lawyer Made Us Change the Name of This Song So We Wouldn’t Get Sued” is a great opening track, and it keeps the tone of the album on a lighter note before getting to the emotional lyrics that are expected to come. The second track starts to get into the clever lines of emotional heartbreak that is expected of the band.
One of my favorite songs on this album is “Dance Dance”. It is driven with a catchy baseline and somehow manages to retain a heavy sound as the hook comes in and the poppy vocals hit the chorus. this song could very easily be a successful single. The next song is the current single, which is gaining success for the band. “Sugar, We’re Going Down” has gotten air time on MTV and the group has played it on late night talk shows. In addition to being single material, these two songs are also similar in that they have short titles—a trend the rest of the album does not follow as the band has added some very long, almost poetic, and often humorous (in a dry, back hand type of way) titles to their repertoire.
“Nobody Puts Baby in the Corner” is the long song that made it from their acoustic EP “My Heart Will Always Be the B-side to My Tongue”. It is definitely a fan favorite and the non-acoustic version fits very well in this lineup of tracks. This is somewhat the transition point of the record, as it slows down and adds more clean guitars and poignant lyrics. The middle of the disc (which is often the falling point for artists) manages to deliver the heart of the album. Instead of the typical boy-girl relationship songs, this album addresses just general problems in life such as repetition and getting older.
Someone once told me that the problem with rock (as opposed to rap) is that there are no good one liners. While that was in reference to something you could yell out at a party or club, this album does indeed give many one liners that will be very popular with the fans and the scene in general. By this, I mean that you will find many profiles, live journals and signatures filled with quotations like “I used waste my time dreaming of being alive, now I only waste it dreaming of you” or “Douse yourself in cheap perfume, it’s so fitting of the way you are”. From Under the Cork Tree is one of the rare albums that contains not just good music, but great lyrics. While Wentz may get criticism for being “emo”, these lyrics are very memorable and are often quite clever. One of the few things I am not completely impressed by is the spoken words at the end of “Get Busy Living or Get Busy Dying (Do Your Part to Save the Scene and Stop Going to Shows”. I can’t say that I totally dislike it, because I do like the lines, it just seems a bit off. At the same time however, it is a great lead in to the final track “XO”. This album is one of the most solid and consistent releases I have come across, and there is no real weak point in it. My favorite tracks are “Of All the Gin Joints in the World”, “Dance Dance” and “I Slept with Someone from Fall Out Boy and All I Got Was This Stupid Song Written About Me”, the last featuring vocals from Chad Gilbert of New Found Glory. From Under the Cork Tree is probably the perfect album for the band at this time in their career, and will likely bring them some mainstream success. Basically, if you don’t have this yet, go buy it.
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