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Fall Out Boy, ‘Folie a Deux’ (Island)

Purists can stomp their Doc Martens all they want, but Fall Out Boy is the biggest punk-influenced act to emerge this decade. Not only do the Illinois quartet have platinum albums and hit singles, they’ve got reach. Lyricist/bassist Pete Wentz is a blogs’n’bloids mainstay, as well as the rare star with a successful vanity label (Decaydance), and hip-hop heavies like Timbaland and the Roots have sought out the AOR adenoids of singer-guitarist Patrick Stump. This isn’t a band; it’s an empire.

More on >> Fall Out Boy’s Extravaganza Hits Chicago >> Pete Wentz and Ashlee Simpson’s Baby is Born >> Fall Out Boy Off-Key at Tour Opener >> Fall Out Boy Aim to Break World Record ?But is it one worth succumbing to? Folie à Deux, their third major- label album, boasts the puns-for-punters wordplay (e.g., “Dear gravity / You held me down,” from “Tiffany Blews”) and MTV interstitial-ready hooks of their past work. And while the gleaming power chords of “America’s Suitehearts” are predictably pogotastic, their left-field forays into disco rockabilly (“I Don’t Care”) and, yes, soulful balladry (“What a Catch, Donnie,” featuring Elvis Costello) are much more impressive.

Unfortunately, Fall Out Boy rule with an iron fist. Potentially tight tunes like “The (Shipped) Gold Standard” are ‘roided out with bombastic keyboards, ham-handed guitar overdubs, rigid drumming, and grating compression. If the band could bring themselves to record with anything resembling subtlety, they might win over some skeptics. But they also might end up hanging with Lightspeed Champion. I suspect they’ll take the trade-off.

Watch: Fall Out Boy, “I Don’t Care”