Friday, June 5, 2015

Why Fall Out Boy Got It Right The First Time


It must be 2005; Fall Out Boy is on the radio again. But this time, they've completely reinvented themselves as pop artists and the raw, youthful whirlwind of emotion of their music in the early 2000s is long gone. I've been trying to put my finger on why I just can't fall head over heels for Fall Out Boy's post-hiatus music like almost everyone else, and this is my attempt to do so.

Music, like everything else, should evolve and change with time. And yes, I completely respect Fall Out Boy and I'm not trying to bash them for changing their sound. But honestly, "Take This To Your Grave" and "From Under The Cork Tree" were their best albums. You won't find their cleverly crafted insults (ex. "Stop burning bridges and drive off of them / so I can forget about you") in their newer music. Their sound was angst-driven, passionate, and a perfect balance of pop punk and rock. "Save Rock And Roll" and "American Beauty/American Psycho" feel less honest, more detached, and harder to relate to.

Maybe it's because I'm from Chicago. Maybe it's because I'm young. Listening to their earlier music, it feels like Fall Out Boy is our band, Chicago's band, because they were still just kids from Chicago like us. But they don't write lyrics about Chicago anymore and they're the world's band, and it feels like they've fallen out of touch with their roots. Their lyrics are still incredible, but they just don't resonate with me the same way the old ones do. As sad as it is, some of the best art comes from the artist's suffering. Pete Wentz's struggles with depression and anxiety led to some of Fall Out Boy's best songs because they showed vulnerability and staggering emotional depth. He has said that writing those songs was therapeutic and performing them was cathartic, and it feels like some of that power is lost on their new music. Songs like "7 Minutes In Heaven (Atavan Halen)" are what truly reach out and grab at the hearts of young people who understand their meaning all too well.
Fall Out Boy in 2002

The overproduction of Fall Out Boy's newer music is what leads to a sense of detachment. It's good music, don't get me wrong, but some of the honesty is lost when you can barely hear the instruments over electronics added in post production. I understand why they're doing it - they want to try something new and keep up with current trends, not to mention that mainstream music has far more money in it than alternative music - but it's not their best work and the sound doesn't fit them as well as the youthful, rage-and-passion fueled sound of their first couple albums.

Fall Out Boy shouldn't remake "Take This To Your Grave" or "From Under The Cork Tree" because that's not who they are or where they are in their lives anymore. But they should look back on those albums and be proud, because they created something truly amazing. They shouldn't stop making music because they've already done their best, either; kudos to them for branching out into new areas of music. But they should realize that what they had on their first couple albums was something that many artists never achieve, and unlike most bands, they got it right the first time.