#5 - Fall Out Boy - From Under The Cork Tree (Island, 2005)
Along with Ke$ha, Fall Out Boy are one of the groups that people seem most surprised to find out I like. I can't really defend Ke$ha, but FOB write (wrote?) catchy songs with lyrics (from bassist Pete Wentz) that were far more intriguing than their MTV contemporaries, and their songwriting was never better (in my opinion) than on From Under The Cork Tree. With a name inspired by Munro Leaf's book The Story Of Ferdinand (which I loved as a kid) and song titles that seemed to go on and on (the longest is 19 words that have nothing to do with the song), Cork Tree was one of the more interesting albums to hit 2005's mainstream.
I first heard Fall Out Boy in my first year of college, back in 2003. I was playing bass in a terrible self-described emo band that never made it past the second band meeting. The singer was going for a Fall Out Boy sound and he played "Grand Theft Autumn/Where Is Your Boy" (from their 2003 album Take This To Your Grave) and "Nobody Puts Baby In The Corner" (from their 2004 EP My Heart Will Always Be The B-Side To My Tongue). I loved both songs immediately and and got those 2 CDs, as well as their first (though often denied by the band) album Fall Out Boy's Evening Out With Your Girlfriend. So when this album came out, I got it immediately, eagerly anticipating more Chicago pop-punk.
Cork Tree has catchy melodies, upbeat rhythms, great vocals (from singer-guitarist Patrick Stump, who is allegedly working on a solo album that I'm very excited about) and the music (written mainly by Stump) always seems to fit Wentz's lyrics perfectly. But the album's real strength, I think, is in the lyrics. There are some lyrical themes that span the album that I know some critics of the band would find lazy, but I think help tie the album together. The most noticeable example is the line "I used to waste my time dreaming of being alive, now I only waste it dreaming of you" from the second track "Of All The Gin Joints In All The World." That line later changes from a romantic gesture of devotion to the more sinister-sounding "I used to obsess over living, now I only obsess over you" from "Get Busy Living Or Get Busy Dying." There are also a few songs (such as album opener "Our Lawyer Made Us Change The Name..." and the later track "Sophomore Slump Or Comeback Of The Year") that have self-referential lyrics about being in a band like Fall Out Boy and how the media portray bands. Also present are the emo-pop standards of falling in love, falling out of love and getting over it.
Favorite Tracks: "Sugar, We're Going Down," "I've Got A Dark Alley And A Bad Idea...," "Get Busy Living Or Get Busy Dying," and the bonus track "The Music Or The Misery"