It wasn’t until late in the year of 2007 that I discovered Fall Out Boy, a pop punk/punk rock band from Chicago, Illinois. I was only 10 years old, and the only music I had really been exposed to was classic rock from my parents and Radio Disney. Pop punk became a new genre for me, and it was fast and exciting and gave me a thrill that Journey never had (sorry, Mom). Lucky for me, they were touring in Denver the same weekend that I was in town visiting my dad. While I didn’t know a majority of the songs they played, I loved that concert. It made for a memorable first concert.
But Fall Out Boy were a band way before 2007. They formed in 2001 by bassist Pete Wentz and guitarist Joe Trohman as a pop punk side project. Lead singer Patrick Stump joined not long after, and the foursome wasn’t complete until drummer Andy Hurley joined later on; the trio was actually almost done recording their first album Take This To Your Grave when Hurley got involved.
Take This To Your Grave
This album encompasses everything that pop punk was in the early 2000’s. Pop punk launched into the mainstream in the mid-to-late 90’s, with bands like Blink-182 and Green Day gaining popularity. The lyrics were angsty, edgy, and cynical with topics often including love and youth.
One of the most iconic lyrics (in my opinion) is “Let’s play this game / called ‘when you catch fire / I wouldn’t piss to put you out'” — holy shit. Right there you can just feel the angst. I mean, that’s pretty dark right there. First of all, there’s a person — a person — on fire, and FOB is just like “Yeah dude, fuck you man. I would rather endure the unbearable feeling of holding in pee for far too long than to put you out. That’s how little you mean to me.”
Or what about this one: “I’ve seen more sinking ships / go down with more grace than you.”
Another great thing about this album is the unpolished, early punk voice that Patrick Stump offers. There’s some moments in this record where Stumps’ voice shines (“Chicago Is So Two Years Ago”, for example) but it’s premature for the most part.
From Under The Cork Tree
FOB blew up after they released this record. The album debuted at no. 9 on the Billboard 200, which is a pretty big deal. This record remains influential, as it was featured on Rolling Stones’ “40 Greatest Emo Albums of All Time“. The reception was pretty well for their sophomore album. You can really tell that this album came together a lot easier than TTTYG — Wentz completely took over the lyrics, and Stump completely took over the composition (the two main things they clashed on when recording their first full length).
Infinity On High
If From Under The Cork Tree didn’t put them on the board, Infinity On High definitely did. Their third studio release was a major commercial success, debuting at number 1 on the U.S. Billboard 200 and in the Top Five worldwide.
Their sound drifted from their earlier pop punk roots and more into melodic R&B, soul, and rock. Stump loves soul music, and this is an album where he really got to bring out his soul voice. His voice is also smoother, and it sounds well-rounded. Another addition to the composition of this record was the instruments they used: they brought in horns, violins, pianos, and even played around with some electronic elements.
The lyrical content advanced as well. The opening track, “Thriller”, is pretty much an autobiographical recap of the past couple of years as they rose to fame. Most of the lyrics still have that pop punk angsty grit to them, but backed with the instrumentation, it made for more radio friendly tunes.
It was about nine months after Infinity On High came out that I got to see them live for the very first time; my very first concert, actually. I quickly fell in love with them. My grandma got me Infinity On High for Christmas, and I took it with me everywhere. Tbh, I’m surprised I still have that same exact copy. Well, I guess not, since I treated it like it was my baby.
Stay tuned for part 2!