The fifth album from
the suburban Chicago
punks-turned-multi-platinum superstars and
gossip-column staples, which arrives in
stores on Tuesday, veers away from the
subtle R&B undercurrents heard on last
year's "Infinity on High"--only the
grandiose ballad "What A Catch, Donnie"
continues in that direction--in favor of the
grand arena-rock stomp of, whaddya know,
vintage hair metal. Yet this is delivered at
tempos just punk enough to stave off undue
pomp, even when producer Neil Avron piles on
the multi-tracked vocal harmonies,
synthesized orchestras, grand pianos, church
choirs and generally superfluous guest
cameos. (These include Lil Wayne, Pharrell
Williams, Debbie Harry and Elvis Costello,
though only the latter can really even be
heard, briefly, on the aforementioned
The first single "I Don't Care" is as entertaining as a spoiled kid's tantrum at the mall (providing the kid isn't yours and you're far enough away that the screeching doesn't puncture an eardrum); "America's Suitehearts" is the anthem Generation Y never knew it needed and won't really understand ("Let's hear it for America's suitehearts/I must confess I'm in love with my own sins") and Wentz even pulls off the enviable hat trick of goofing on his own celebrity bride, bragging about his recent celebrity fatherhood and mocking his own celebrity image in "She's My Winona" ("Hell or glory/I don't want anything in between/Then came a baby boy with long eyelashes/And daddy said, 'You gotta show the world the thunder!'").
Even when the band's wildest stylistic experiments fall flat--as they do in attempting to graft an old Paul Williams-style '70s show tune onto a pop-punk anthem in "20 Dollar Nose Bleed"--you have to applaud the audacious ambition. The last Chicago rocker to try such absurd high-wire acts while attempting to turn underground sounds into stadium cliches was Billy Corgan, but where even the most grandiose of his sonic constructions could teeter under the weight of his emotional angst, Fall Out Boy plays every emotion for laughs and never skimps on the melodies or the adrenaline, making their particular brand of "madness shared by two" all the more infectious.