The Weekly Jive

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Posted December 18, 2008 in Music

Fall Out Boy— Folie à Deux (Decaydance/Island)

Fall Out Boy are embarrassingly over-adored (mostly by giddy teens) and criminally underrated (mostly by cynical grown-ups). Sure, they have an almost pathological self-publicist in bassist/Mr. Ashlee Simpson Pete Wentz, but the root of their ubiquity has been world-class, ultra-melodic and increasingly interesting music. The Illinois foursome were widely regarded as just another sorry-for-themselves emo act until last year’s Infinity on High—an album of colorful, celebratory pop which smuggled distinct R&B and soul influences into FOB’s punky palette and found singer Patrick Stump in glorious, Michael Jackson-y form. Folie A Deux is a rather more earnest Infinity Pt. II, replete with banks of Queen-esque vocals (“America’s Sweethearts”); dance-floor ready breakdowns (“Headfirst Slide into Cooperstown on a Bad Bet”); ’70s stack-healed pomp (first single “I Don’t Care); and Stump’s supple, falsetto-capped timbre. Put aside any emo preconceptions and the vision of Wentz’s smug mug (and his over-thought lyrics) and surrender to the pop album of 2008 and a vivid, vivacious soundtrack for ’09. (Paul Rogers)

 

Cat Power—Dark End of the Street (Matador)

Chan Marshall’s reputation as a unique interpreter of other people’s songs slipped earlier this year with her so-so second covers record, Jukebox. Now, with this EP of six songs that, presumably, didn’t make the Jukebox cut, she doesn’t do that once-impeachable rep too many favors. What made 2000’s The Covers Record among the best of its ilk was how Marshall took songs from across the stylistic board (Smog, the Rolling Stones, Michael Hurley) and remade them into breathtaking solo performances; less turned out to be infinitely more. But with Jukebox, and now Dark End . . . , Marshall’s new incarnation as full-band soul singer too often results in mere adaptations rather than intriguing reconstructions. Here this latest half-disc, Marshall takes the mic instead of Otis Redding (“I’ve Been Loving You Too Long”) or Aretha Franklin (“It Ain’t Fair”) in arrangements that differ too little from the originals. And when she takes CCR’s “Fortunate Son” and turns it into a dirge-with-strings, it falls painfully flat. The best reinterpretations—The Pogues’ “Ye Auld Triangle” and Sandy Denny’s “Who Knows Where the Time Goes?”—play down the trad-soul for more intimacy and vulnerability. That’s real Marshall soul, and still her strongest suit. (John Schacht)

 

All-American Rejects—When the World Comes Down (DGC/Interscope)

A grey pall of conservative, if-it-ain’t-broke thinking hangs over this album like sleeping gas. Following the double-platinum success of their sophomore outing, 2005’s Move Along, Oklahoma’s All-American Rejects seem more intent on not putting a foot wrong than actually expressing themselves or pushing any buttons or boundaries. It’s more post-Weezer/Blink 182 emo fodder that, at best, sounds like early Millennium Warped Tour and, at worst, like late ’90s grunge-lite (pretty worrying for a band that didn’t form until 2001). The hooks are robust enough (and buffed to perfection by Good Charlotte/Maroon 5 producer Eric Valentine); bassist Tyson Ritter’s edge-of-a-breakdown voice is functionally melodramatic; and there’s obligatory, self-conscious down-tempo/acoustic/semi-electronic “diversity.” In fairness, Ritter & Co. don’t pretend to be anything other than a pop band and their arena rock inspirations/aspirations (which apparently include Bon Jovi, Journey and Def Leppard) are worn on their sleeves. A middle-of-the-road, manufactured record that will change nothing. (Paul Rogers)

 

 


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