Review: Fall Out Boy’s ‘Folie a Deux’

Folie a Deux, the title of Fall Out Boy‘s third major label album, is meant to mean “a madness shared by two.” Which means this album is madness!

No. This…is…Fall Out Boy.

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Folie is the most cohesive album Fall Out Boy has put out to date. This album may, in fact, be the first where you are aware of the entire band throughout. While there is still the obvious focus of Patrick Stump‘s voice and Pete Wentz‘s lyrics, the album moves Fall Out Boy closer to the rock end of the spectrum with noticeable and fantastic guitar work from lead guitarist Joe Trohman. Add in Andy Hurley‘s extreme talent on the drums and you have a viable rock album.

Fall Out Boy has also taken the experimentation they showed on their last album, Infinity on High, and applied it to Folie a Deux. Infinity was Fall Out Boy’s first move away from their pop punk roots and Folie moves on from where Infinity left off. While a lot of the sound is rock and roll, including the album’s lead single “I Don’t Care” as well as songs like “(Coffee’s for Closers),” “27” and the closer “West Coast Smoker,” which seems AC/DC inspired at times, the album also contains the ballad-y “What a Catch, Donnie,” the hip-hop flavored “Tiffany Blew” and the almost motown inspired “20 Dollar Nose Bleed.”

While many hardcore fans may hear this and combine it with their original fears (that growing up had changed the band, that Pete Wentz getting married, having a baby and in general getting HAPPY would ruin the music), they really should lay those to rest. The band has grown again, beyond where they were during Infinity on High. They are finding their own sound, their own comfort level and have made a fantastic album in the process. In face, the major changes in Pete’s life have helped a lot of this along, since he has stopped focusing on his problems from years ago: his love life, his exgirlfriends. Instead, Pete’s focus has now been turned to the world at large. He still writes with the same wit, the same occasional double-speak and more than a few times the same innuendo, but his subject matter has become more adult as he and his bandmates have done the same.

As for the cameos that some people were dreading, never fear. Most of the cameos are, quite literally, blink and you’ll miss them. The most obvious cameos aren’t even the bigger names that were dropped (Elvis Costello, Debbie Harry, L’il Wayne) but instead a section of “What a Catch, Donnie” where Fall Out Boy’s Decaydance label mates sing the choruses of their previous hits. Costello, in fact, appears on the same song, but sounds roughly like Patrick Stump singing in a slightly “off” tone. L’il Wayne appears in “Tiffany Blews” but via digitizing and mixing his voice is irrecongizable…actually at first I suspected the voice on the track was Cobra Starship frontman Gabe Saporta. As for Debbie Harry…okay, I haven’t even found her cameo yet.

The focus of this album is Fall Out Boy in their entirety. This is THEIR album, they own it completely. While previously it has seemed like individual members have “owned” albums (From Under the Cork Tree being largely Pete’s and Infinity on High being mostly Patrick’s) this album draws the band together in a way we haven’t heard since their first album, Take This To Your Grave. However, this is Take This To Your Grave plus maturity, experience and growth both personal and as a band. This is not madness shared by two, it’s madness shared by four. And it’s a madness fans should welcome.

Folie a Deux drops December 16 in the USA.