Another Impressive Album

'Infinity On High' is a huge album, full of non-stop sing-a-long hooks, full-speed-ahead rock, and smart song writing. Fall Out Boy does a great job of focusing on what they are excellent at (intelligent choruses, crescendo-stacking melodies, amazing puns) and none of the things they would suck at (saxophones, strings, slowing it down a little). A long, long time ago, in 2005, when Fall Out Boy had not one but two hits responsible for taking the ultra-seriousness of the 'emo' sub-genre and making it something fun, some trend-spotters wisely predicted that the market would soon be swamped by imitation bands. Fall Out Boy have reason to gloat as the dramatic and impertinent third-generation emo they pioneered has become a sub-genre, inspiring many acts out there. It's now one and a half years since their explosion to the foreground of the scene, and the follow up to their breakout 'From Under the Cork Tree', is everything you'd expect: catchy with not a straight-faced moment on the entire disc, but they're also making it very hard for any copycats to follow in their footsteps. Infinity proves they're the masters of this peculiar art.

You have to be impressed by Fall Out Boy's ability to divide audiences into love-'em and hate-'em factions. Of course, it's the loud, jagged sound that really gets everyone moving. FOB's guitars still blare, and Patrick Stump has evolved into a superb front man; his vocals have improved; his tone is smoother, more well rounded, and far more varied and adaptable to different styles. His soulful melody-dripping vocals are spot-on throughout the album, as are the band's harmonised anthemic hooks thanks to bassist-lyricist Pete Wentz, whose tortured egomaniac confessions with Stump's voice form a strange, but outstanding, singer-writer unit. Wentz scores repeatedly with slickly written verses and irresistible chest-pounding hooks that beg for listener participation. On this album he is as sharp as ever, throwing out lyrics with no regard for the carnage caused. 'Thriller' and 'Arms Race' each mark attempts by Pete to salvage his indie cred, the latter containing a number of veiled criticisms of the phoniness, which surrounds the scene. He is responsible for the energetically pun-filled songs that both wallow in and ridicule emo angst. He never met a metaphor he didn't like, and uses words with spunk to get everyone worked up...in different ways. The band achieves a high quality in the production works too: the tones sound crisp, the drums hit powerfully and if there are some additional instruments used in the song they're interlaced with the composition's body accurately. The term pop punk doesn't seem to match the music of Fall Out Boy any longer, but is still the closest definition.

'Infinity On High' sees Fall Out Boy move further down the path they began down with their previous album, expanding the pure pop element of their sound while reworking their punk origins. The hardcore influence has become an ever more subtle tool in their belt. Towering sing-a-long hooks and slickly written songs are nothing new for FOB, and they do an excellent job of taking full advantage of what they do well as a band. It is this reason some have shunned Fall Out Boy, but it is the same thing that makes them so incredibly hard to ignore; and even harder not to cheer on. The pleasant surprise with this album is that several songs dip winningly into R&B, a move aided by co-producer Babyface. The group's newfound rap fetish has a notable effect on their music, but is relatively minor in the scheme of things.

We're living in a golden age of long song titles, and Fall Out Boy is leading the way. But in the MySpace era, bands have discovered commas, and as a result song titles have gotten even longer. I'm guessing now they're famous, they also have even more sordid secrets to dish about, and it suits them. It exemplifies what Fall Out Boy are all about. There are no weak songs here, the entire album sounds as a single whole. It's fast, it's loud and it is smart, each song features a well thought composition and full of catchy bridges, hooks and choruses. 'Thriller', opens with a typically defensive emo boast by Jay-Z. 'The Take Over, The Break's Over' has a hard charging beat and ultra-catchy lyrics slam together bridges and hooks to the point the whole song sounds like one big chorus with absent verses. 'This Ain't A Scene' has a great mixture of mind-blowing beats and beautiful yet politically outspoken lyrics. 'I'm Like A Lawyer With The Way I'm Always Trying To Get You Off (Me & You)' is a difficult name to remember, yet it has a calm and collective beat throughout with soft lyrics speaking of love. Patrick's vocal talent is truly defined here which really adds to the track. Itchy guitars drive 'Hum Hallelujah', winning with less of a hook. Golden starts off with a piano playing solo. Calm, softly spoken lyrics follow with welcoming brief interruptions. It's one of the best songs the band has written. While it feels like it has no place on a rock album, the soulful feel is an unexpected and pleasant surprise.

The second single, 'Thnks Fr Th Mmrs' has irresistible lyrics and hooks, which are among the best on the album. The music is well written and is really uplifting; a great tune. 'Don't You Know Who I Think I Am?' is a happy, poppy song, a little more pop than rock, wit a chorus that will get you singing, and clapping. 'The (After) Life Of The Party' begins a little like the 10 o'clock news. It's what I would describe as a speedy ballad due to its punchy beat and slow lyrics. Be warned, the choruses of 'The Carpal Tunnel Of Love' has a little more bouncy than we usually expect from Fall Out Boy, which is a welcomed change. 'Bang The Doldrums' has a progressive beat and an interesting vocal range. This is a very well written song in both musical and lyrical terms. 'Fame < Infamy' is interestingly titled and suitably so. The song is heavily guitar based and the drums here sound great, especially when you have the volume up. 'You're Crashing, But You're No Wave' has a very fast, and hard to understand bridge, but the remainder of the song is upbeat and catchy. The album's most dramatic cut is found at the end, in the form of 'I've Got All This Ringing In My Ears And None On My Fingers', a track that really stands out. The funky beats fuse well with the slow singing style. Beautifully written love style ballad, which is sung superbly. Watch out for the bonus UK track 'G.I.N.A.S.F.S', a rock track that will get your head pounding and remember at the end to 'press repeat' as instructed.

'Infinity on High' is a record that is wildly exciting and experimental, and demands respect. There's a lot on here that's great and nothing that's horrific. FOB has finally worked out their niche as a slightly new wave band. If you think that loud days of pop punk are gone then you are extremely wrong. It turns out that it is still possible to find something new and fresh in this style. It's quite obvious that these boys are going to rise even higher with their new album. Fall Out Boy has made a very smart move in the face of criticism: they've proved they have enough talent to progress in sound; 'Infinity on High' is notably better than their previous instalment. It's better in sound and more diverse; it could become a megaphone, which is ready to inform everyone about claims to an authority over the entire pop-punk scene.

The songs are fantastic and this would be a great purchase for any fan or anyone who wants some calm alternative rock to chill out or party to (the song's are that dynamic they can be used for both purposes). They've got great song titles, and great choruses. The lyrics are loaded with witty lines that can be read into one way or another. When you see 'Infinity On High' getting praised, don't bother mocking; this deserves CD to get praised. It is definitely one to get your hands on. Since there's no profanity on this album, and thus no need for a parental advisory sticker, perhaps this should be printed on them instead: Warning: Do not take this content seriously, or suffer from your own extreme idiocy. It's not meant to be taken seriously! As long as you remember that, you should find it an enjoyable disc, and that's why there's absolutely no guilt in naming it one of the guiltiest pleasures of the year.