For the purposes of this review it’s better for all concerned that the ‘e’ word is avoided. In their interview for musicOMH.com Chicago’s Fall Out Boy have distanced themselves from the loosely defined style, preferring to be thought of as a straight ahead rock band instead.
Now that’s established, we can consider what really matters – the musical content of their third album. They’ve netted a big fish in Jay-Z for a guest appearance, but his contribution is over if you blink a little too hard after pressing play, little more than a lazy, cursory intro to the rat-a-tat explosion of Thriller.
Together with the clenched fist of single This Ain’t A Scene, It’s An Arms Race this makes a strongly anthemic start to the album, and the use of blundering, dance-derived beats on the latter gives it an intoxicated air.
Unfortunately from there on in Fall Out Boy find it difficult to sustain this positively charged music, and the album begins to lose direction. For sure Patrick Stump can hit a decent high note though, ones that most male singers could only dream of without surgery.
This comes into its own on I’ve Got All This Ringing In My Ears And One On My Finger, which underneath its ridiculous title steps out like Mr Blue Sky crossed with Come As You Are. Stump’s vocal soars effectively in a strangely moving chorus that goes off at all manner of harmonic tangents before returning home.
Elsewhere things aren’t so rewarding. I’m Like a Lawyer with the Way I’m Always Trying to Get You Off (Me & You) may have an even worse title but delivers it with a quasi boyband whine for a chorus, supported by lumpen guitar. Hum Hallelujah attempts to rectify this, a drumless ballad that builds towards an emotive climax (there – I nearly said it!) but then sidesteps into a chant that could be oddly moving or faintly ridiculous, depending on your viewpoint.
So while Infinity On High has some interesting diversions from the standard quiet verse-loud chorus formula, and attempts with the bigger songs to put some money where its mouth is, it ultimately winds up being a set of mostly derivative tunes that we’ve heard elsewhere.
The beauty of music, though, is that’s just one viewpoint – if you approach this from the direction of My Chemical Romance, for instance, you’ll probably get a lot more out of it.