Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Fall Out Boy

  • From Under the Cork Tree [Island, 2005] C+
  • Folie à Deux [Island, 2008] B-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

From Under the Cork Tree [Island, 2005]
Stuck between pretentious young purists who believe catchy love songs betray their hardcore heritage and eager younger fans who believe catchy love songs fulfill their teenthrob destiny, these Warped Tour cover boys aren't terrible, but are they ever ordinary. Only their record company would claim that emotional vocals, dramatic dynamics, poppy-punky tempos, and not actually all that catchy tunes add up to "their own sound." They have some talent, they're cute, and they work hard. Thus they get to pretend that "Douse yourself in cheap perfume it's/So fitting of the way you are" is a lyric for the ages, a/k/a next week. C+

Folie à Deux [Island, 2008]
Admittedly, the two classic lines Pete Wentz comes up with here--"Imperfect boys with their perfect lives" and the cheeky Nirvana cop "I don't care what you think as long as it's about me"--reflect the new thematic legitimacy of superstar self-pity in an era when fans would rather envy their musical heroes than identify with them. But that doesn't mean non-fans should feel obliged to get with the program. Low-tune for a pop band, low-momentum for a rock band, they stand a chance of evoking bad Elvis Costello when they take you by surprise or emote on in the background. In fact, when Mr. C. himself makes a shock-horror guest appearance, he's surprisingly hard to tell from Patrick Stumpf. Which is weird, disturbing--especially for Mr. C. B-