After a sensationally raw punk debut album, Fall Out Boy returns with a pop punk vengeance in their superior sophomore followup, From Under The Cork Tree. Despite the compositional transition into more mainstream territory, Fall Out Boy has never been catchier or more finely polished, from Pete Wentz’s prominent bass hooks to Patrick Stump’s soulful and perfectly tuned vocals. Flashy guitar riffs and lively drum beats blaze the trail, alternating between emphatic intensity and upbeat joviality, a balance that has been this band’s shtick from the beginning. The snarky and sex-centered lyrics (complete with long-winded and cheeky song titles) are clearly aimed at the teenage crowd, but From Under The Cork Tree delivers such an enjoyable and timeless experience that it’s nearly impossible to not tap your foot or sway your head to its classic guitar hooks, well-paced drumming and Stump’s melodic voice. So although some Fall Out Boy purists will likely cling to Take This To Your Grave, as their best work there’s a definite reason From Under The Cork Tree garnered so much attention and popularity.
Andy Hurley’s catchy drum beat, Pete Wentz’ groovy bass hook and Stump’s melodious vocals make “Dance, Dance” a headbob-inducing dance floor rock anthem that gives From Under The Cork Tree lively and indelible energy, especially once Stump and Joe Trohman’s explosive guitar riffs join the party. Like the majority of the album, this highly contagious sing-along centers around teenage hormones and an appealing carefree attitude as Stump swoons “Why don’t you show me the little bit of spine you’ve been saving for his mattress?”
“Sugar We’re Goin Down” is without a doubt the most memorable song of From Under The Cork Tree thanks to its rhythmic and endearing guitar riffs, buoyant drumming and the passion of Stump’s sarcastic and angst-ridden vocals about wishful romance and its teenage-centric relation to life in general. Stump’s lovable wailing dominates the hyperactive and catchy chorus, one of the finest Fall Out Boy has ever created. This spotlight track best demonstrates this album’s overarching ability to both redefine and adhere to the emo and pop punk aesthetic.
“Sophomore Slump Or Comeback Of The Year” simultaneously asks and answers Stump’s rhetorical question, “Are we going up or just going down?” with a resounding “UP” as he speculates about life (and coincidentally, From Under The Cork Tree‘s place in the band’s discography). Fall Out Boy acknowledges their compliance with the standard emo rustic, but they consequently rise above it in the process as Stump accurately declares “We’re the therapists pumping through your speakers, delivering just what you need.”
There comes a turning point in many bands’ career where the old, gritty style of the past is replaced with a more enjoyable and mainstream sound. This superior change perfects the band’s sound, but doesn’t abandon it; the sell-out albums come later. From Under The Cork Tree represents this peak for Fall Out Boy: the height of the band’s music but also the first sign of their inevitable transition into subpar mediocrity thanks to the deserved attention this impressive album receives on a national scale. With catchy and bass-heavy riffs, uptempo drum beats, infectious lyrics and Stump’s flawlessly soulful vocals, it’s easy to see why this album not only avoided the sophomore slump, but served as Fall Out Boy’s greatest triumph. The appalling “Get Busy Living Or Get Busy Dying” is the only track that feels out of place and unworthy, singlehandedly bringing From Under The Cork Tree down a notch. However, the majority of this stellar entry represents a complete advancement of Fall Out Boy’s sound for the better, as nearly every track flows well to create a passionate but lighthearted experience. Fans of The All-American Rejects, Panic! At The Disco, Plain White T’s, The Academy Is…, Blink-182, My Chemical Romance, Green Day, Jimmy Eat World and Taking Back Sunday should be right at home with this bass-laden and vocally melodic work of art, which still stands as Fall Out Boy’s finest and most genuine achievement.
Final Score: 9.2/10
Rank: 1st (four total albums)
- Our Lawyers Made Us Change The Name Of This Song So We Wouldn’t Get Sued
- Of All The Gin Joints In All The World
- Dance, Dance
- Sugar, We’re Goin Down
- Nobody Puts Baby In The Corner
- I’ve Got A Dark Alley And A Bad Idea That Says You Should Shut Your Mouth (Summer Song)
- 7 Minutes In Heaven (Atavan Halen)
- Sophomore Slump Or Comeback Of The Year
- Champagne For My Real Friends, Real Pain For My Sham Friends
- I Slept With Someone In Fall Out Boy And All I Got Was This Stupid Song Written About Me
- A Little Less Sixteen Candles, A Little More “Touch Me”
- Get Busy Living Or Get Busy Dying (Do Your Part To Save The Scene And Stop Going To Shows)