Fall Out Boy 

Folie a Deux

Tabloid-ready celebrity is a Fall Out Boy constant, thanks to bassist Pete Wentz's marriage to Ashlee Simpson and leaked pics of his privates spreading around the Net like wildfire. So it's easy to forget that these emo kings-of-the-heap are musicians first, whose enormous crossover success came via 2007's Infinity on High. Rife with oversized, Sgt. Pepper-like pop ambitions, Fall Out Boy's fifth studio outing continues down this path.

A kitchen-sink approach that includes liberal uses of strings, horns, layered choruses, and a gaggle of guest shots makes for an interesting listening experience, although this daringness to redefine the band yields some annoyances. (Did the track listings have to be printed backwards, making a mirror necessary to figure out what song is playing?) Fame's absurdity is a key target, and vocalist Patrick Stump's theatrically dramatic phrasing (reminiscent of ex-Barenaked Lady Steven Page) works well when he's cheekily singing Nobody wants to hear you sing about tragedy after mentions of nervous breakdowns and detox stints on the fist-pumping opener "Disloyal Order of Water Buffaloes."

This exuberance does end up backfiring, such as on the stillborn dance-ish cut "Tiffany Blews" and its imperceptible Lil Wayne cameo, and on the synth-soaked non-starter "w.a.m.s." Fortunately, this ebullience does yield gems like "Headfirst Slide Into Cooperstown on a Bet" and its intriguing time changes, chunky harmonies, and Queen-like chords. Or the power-ballad "What a Catch, Donnie," which would work just as well minus appearances by members of Panic at the Disco, Gym Class Heroes, and Elvis Costello. Far from perfect, Fall Out Boy still succeeds in transcending the angst-ridden, self-pitying parameters of the emo scene that spawned the band. (Island)


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