10 Years Later: Infinity on High
“Welcome, it’s here,” is one of the first lines spoken on Fall Out Boy’s third studio album. Not by Patrick Stump, or any member of the band for that matter, but it’s a line spoken by none other than Jay-Z. Infinity on High marked the beginning of Fall Out Boy’s expansion from the safety net of pop punk, into a more unrestricted genre and playing field. While this record, alongside all their others, still maintains elements of what makes Fall Out Boy distinct, it was a brash follow up to 2005’s From Under The Cork Tree, and would be the milestone album which influenced the band to creatively push themselves into making records entirely different from one another.
On February 6th, 2007, Infinity on High was released, and on February 6th, 2017, it still has withstood the test of time so far - 10 years later, and I still listen to this record or at least select songs from it almost daily. In it’s first week, Infinity on High sold 260,000 copies and became the Chicago band’s first number one album. To this day, the album has sold over two million copies - a language that seems foreign in 2017 with all of the streaming services that are now available to us.
The first song I heard off of this album was the infamous “Thnks fr th Mmrs.” It’s theatrical entrance to it’s rock and roll chorus is what captivated and still continues to captivate me. Despite my bias as a Fall Out Boy fan, I don’t think that this is their best album - their best album is their next one, and the next one after that. However, this was their first real record out of their comfort zone, where they utilized sampling other artists, and employing more instruments than typical pop-punk: guitar, bass, and percussion.
“Thriller” is an anthemic opening number, which serves as an autobiographical excerpt on the band's rise to fame after From Under The Cork Tree. “The Take Over, The Break’s Over,” ironically became a theme song for Fall Out Boy’s fans after their return from hiatus in 2013. The following track, one of the band’s most successful is “This Ain’t A Scene, It’s an Arms Race.” The song still proves to be a fan favourite, but personally isn’t one of mine (however, it rips live, and I do appreciate the metaphors tangled in the song). It’s a sing along nostalgia for many, and takes them back to when they were a high school emo. Infinity on High is one of those records that a lot of people leave in the past. I don’t understand why this is the trend, for it’s one of the most relevant and relatable Fall Out Boy records and is loaded with deep lyricism that our teenage brains probably couldn’t comprehend at the time.
“I’m Like A Lawyer With The Way I’m Always Trying To Get You Off (Me & You),” is an uptempo love song, and one of the best on the record. It’s showcasing of Patrick Stump’s vocal range is what makes this song entirely theirs, and not just another pop song. “Hum Hallelujah,” is anthemic, and features a sample of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” which puts a new spin on the record in a fitting and non-cliche way - strategically thought out, and is the missing ingredient that ties the song together. This track can either be interpreted as a song about teenage love, or more thought-provokingly about suicide - Pete Wentz attempted suicide, which was depicted on their song “7 Minutes in Heaven (Atavan Halen),” but the chorus of “Hum Hallelujah” humanizes it, and plays on the romanticization of it.
“Golden” is one of Fall Out Boy’s first real attempts at a slow paced song, with dark lyrics that provide the undertone of hopelessness. It’s all piano with the touch of Patrick Stump’s gentle voice and is an important track on the album. When reflecting and realizing that this album contains many messages of hope, it reminds the listener that sometimes, feelings of hopelessness will arise, no matter what, but it’s how you choose to deal with it is what makes you who you are.
“Thnks fr th Mmrs” slides in after “Golden” and is an anthem for Fall Out Boy fans. It’s one of their best songs, period, as it’s relatable to any memory, and whether or not the thanks is spiteful and sarcastic, or genuine. “Don’t You Know Who I Think I Am?” sharply contrasts as the following track, as it has heavier emphasis on guitar, and closes off with strong harmonies. “The (After) Life of The Party” is a track that provides a small taste of what would be to come on Fall Out Boy’s next album, Folie a Deux, with a prominent string section but a guitar and percussion oriented chorus. In hindsight, it really does sound like a precursor to Folie a Deux, with lyrics like “I’m a stitch away from making it” closely similar to the later “I’m coming apart at the seams,” line from “Disloyal Order of the Water Buffaloes.”
“The Carpal Tunnel of Love,” is the best showcase of Patrick Stump’s voice on the record, with a falsetto chorus that isn’t really a sing along because let’s face it, only a select few people can really sing like that. This track is the epitome of Fall Out Boy, mixing Stump’s angelic voice with a bit of hardcore screaming from Wentz, similar to a classic track like “Saturday,” off of Take This To Your Grave.
“Bang The Doldrums,” returns the band to it’s pop punk roots, with a slight flair from choppy, flamenco sounding guitars, but with basic pop-punk chord construction and employing gang vocals at the end of the chorus. “Fame < Infamy,” is another commentary on the band’s rise to fame, and depicts Wentz’ struggles of being in the public eye, but also the enjoyment of it. “You’re Crashing, But You’re No Wave,” tells the story of Fred Hampton, Jr. and utilizes the Los Angeles Master Chorale for haunting vocals. “I’ve Got All This Ringing In My Ears And None On My Fingers,” closes the record, and if one was to listen to Fall Out Boy’s discography in chronological order, would flow perfectly into Folie a Deux.
This album is a comeback from being knocked down, both personally and professionally. Fall Out Boy have received their fair share of people who critique them and doubt their integrity as musicians. Infinity on High set the band free of restraints, and set the stage for more genre experimentation, as well as utilizing song transitions to make the record feel complete, opposed to just stand alone songs. It’s hard to believe that Infinity on High is ten years old when for many, it feels like it was just yesterday. So far, it has withstood it’s test of time, no matter how short, and remains relevant today. Music doesn’t have an expiry date, and serves as a commentary on our lives. Songs aren’t written about us, but in a way, we feel as though they were written for us. It’s what makes us all human - we share not in identical experiences, but feelings, which is what makes music relatable and important. Long live Infinity on High, and long live the car crash hearts.