Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Folie à Deux | Album Review

I started listening to Fall Out Boy this summer and it has quickly become my favourite band. Therefore, I thought it would be appropriate to write a review (okay, it's a lot more meta than an actual review) of my favourite album. Folie is my favourite FOB album because it critiques pop culture today - to quote the members of the band, "how it affects our thoughtfulness and triggers our carelessness."

Genre: emo rock, pop punk, alternative rock
Released: December 2008

1. Disloyal Order Of Water Buffaloes
"I'm a loose bolt of a complete machine."

I found this song difficult until I had a really difficult time in my life and this song suddenly clicked. To me, this song is about someone who is in a difficult relationship where he or she feels worthless ("I'm coming apart at the seams / Pitching myself for leads in other people's dreams"), feels like he or she is tricked into a relationship ("Perfect boys with their perfect ploys"), and then left alone. "I'd promise you anything for another shot at life," the writer begs; but every time he tries to fix the situation, it is merely a "butterfly bandage" and he always falls into the same trap, an endless cycle ("detox just to retox;" "a telescopic camera") because he cannot see any way out of the situation. He knows he needs help ("Doc, there's a hole where something was"), but he's too afraid to seek help outside of himself ("Hey doctor, I'm certifiable [to help myself]") because he believes that no one really cares about him, or at so he thinks - other people are all "painted dolls" who fake sympathy: "nobody wants to hear you sing about tragedy." He/she is "half-doomed" and the woman/man is "semi-sweet." (I wrote a spin-off poem on this song.)

2. I Don't Care
"The best of us can find happiness in misery."

This song has been described by main lyricist Pete Wentz as a "narcissist's anthem." While the lines "I don't care what you think as long as it's about me" is definitely narcissistic, I feel that there is more to this song than just the artist proclaiming self-love. "These friends, they don't love you / They just love the hotel suite" seems to point to the narcissism of today's society - people that you thought were friends are really just using you for their own self-interest, being your 'friend' when they can get something out of you. Therefore, I would argue that the artist is not proclaiming himself as a narcissist, but rather calling out other people, and today's society as a whole.

3. She's My Winona
"Then came a baby boy with long eyelashes."

I looked into what other people think of this song and this one seems to be about how the band has changed their music over the years - but the fact that they are also lucky to still be successful with the ups and downs of life. This could point to a warning/message to new musicians. However, the lyrics also point to Pete's first Bronx and I've seen some people see the lyrics as talking about the situation in Iraq at the time.

4. America's Suitehearts
"You could have knocked me out with a feather."

If any song on this album is a criticism of today's society and the media, this is definitely one of those. This song especially critiques America's "suitehearts" (celebrities), pointing out their narcissism and fall into ruin: "Why won't the world revolve around me?", "I've got a lot of friends stuck on classic coke," and "I'm in love with my own sins" being just a few examples.

5. Headfirst Slide Into Cooperstown On A Bad Bet
"I don't just want to be a footnote in someone else's happiness"

This song is about a married woman cheating with the writer on her husband ("Does your husband know the way that / The sunshine gleams from your wedding band?"). I may do another post on an analysis of this song coupled with Patrick Stump's song "The 'I' In Lie" from his solo album Soul Punk to show that this situation is not being shown in a positive light, but there are definitely lines in the song that point to the negative connotation: "But, I will never end up like him. / Behind my back I already am" and "peroxide princes shine like shark teeth." "Wish I didn't I didn't I didn't I didn't," the singer repeats.

I really like to listen to this song when I'm feeling down because of the line: "darling, I know what you're going through."

6. The (Shipped) Gold Standard
"You can only blame your problems on my world for so long before it all becomes the same old song."

I disagree with most of the interpretations of this song - for me, it definitely has the feel of a love song, but I wouldn't apply it to Pete and his wife Ashlee, but rather Pete and his band mate / best friend, Patrick Stump (I really love their friendship, okay?... it's called agape!!). "I wanna scream I love you from the top of my lungs / But I'm afraid that someone else will hear me" could point to the brotherly love between the two, but how the media always blows such declarations out of proportion (if you don't know what I'm talking about, be glad).  Some of the lyrics seem to point to Pete's depression/bipolar/car episode (see notes on "What A Catch, Donnie") - "as soon as we hit the hospital, I know we're going to leave this town," and I can definitely imagine Patrick coming to visit Pete in the hospital and promising his friend that they'll leave as soon as he gets better. My favourite line is "You can only blame your problems on my world for so long before it all becomes the same old song" - perhaps Pete realizes that he has to figure out his own problems, and not blame nature or other people for his disorder.

7. (Coffee's For Closers)
"I will never believe in anything again / Though change will come / Oh change will come / I will never believe in anything again."

In their first performance of the song, Pete Wentz stated that "this song is about cameras... how they can put us in a cage or set us free. Change is ok, if it's real change. And we need change in places like Sri Lanka, Burma, Northern Uganda. And we need cameras there instead of cameras following [fake] people in Los Angeles... myself included."

Genius.com points out the use of the line "coffee's for closers only," referencing Glengarry Glen Ross (making me fangirl a little because I did this play in English class), in which 'closers' were the real estate agents who were able to close their sales. Anyone who did not manage to do so in the movie were in big trouble - which could show that only the successful people in the media get what they want. I also picked out some other lyrics, such as the "I'm a mascot for what you've become." This sounds to me a lot like when people today love a celebrity so much that they follow what that celebrity does and defend them in whatever they do... and yet, these celebrities are not the people that they used to be. (Taylor Swift in my point of view... I know a lot of people who defend her in everything she does, even with the bad changes.) And yet, Patrick also sings "baby, when they made me they broke the mold" - perhaps this means that he steps outside the mold of our culture with excessive love of celebrities by critiquing these people?

8. What A Catch, Donnie
"I've got troubled thoughts and a self-esteem to match."

This is one of my favourite songs off the entire album, perhaps even my favourite FOB song. Not only are the lyrics so very clever in the way that they hit home ("I've got troubled thoughts and a self-esteem to match" - I'm sure everyone has felt this way at some point), but I love the way that the lyrics of the band's most popular songs have been incorporated in at the end, sung by friends of the band. Pete Wentz wrote this song with Donny Hathaway in mind, a famous singer who committed suicide, who also performed several duets with Roberta Flack (the "Miss Flack" in the song); the song highlights the relationship between Pete Wentz and Patrick Stump, who had been a great support for Pete when battling with his depression and bipolar (and did attempt suicide at one point as referenced in "Hum Hallelujah" from the band's previous album Infinity On High).

The previous FOB songs referenced (in order of appearance) are:
Elvis Costello - "Headfirst Slide into Cooperstown on a Bad Bet"
Gabe Saporta - "Grand Theft Autumn"
Travis McCoy - "Sugar We're Going Down"
Brendon Urie - "Dance, Dance"
Doug Neuman - "This Ain't A Scene, It's An Arms Race"
Alex Deleon - "Thnks Fr Th Mmrs"
William Beckett - "Growing Up"

9. 27
"If home is where the heart is then we're all just _____."

This song has the appearance of a word I'd prefer that wasn't there, but other than that, this song is one that I quite like. "27" critiques the successful star hooked on drugs ("I'd shoot sunshine into my veins;" "milligrams in my head"). After sinking into the ditch ("are all the good times getting gone?"), the singer "can't remember the good old days," but keeps going on the path of debauchery ("My body is an orphanage / We take everyone in" -> I think this is the cleverest lines in the entire song) because "if I keep it up we'll all get rich." In the end, "I've got a lot of friends who are stars / But some [most???] are just black holes."

10. Tiffany Blews (ft. Lil Wayne)
"Oh, baby you're a classic / Like a little black dress"

Of all the songs on this album (that I can't even count how many times I've listened to), this is the one that I still struggle with. To me, there's something to do with a relationship ("I can make your heart slow... Your pupils they're big"), but the writer does not appear to be happy being in it, using words and phrases such as "got stuck," "hate me baby," "faded moon," "faded soon," "gravity you held me down," and "not the boy I was." Perhaps his friends are encouraging him to stay in this relationship ("my friends all lie and say / They only want the best wishes for me"), perhaps because the girl is the type that 'everyone' would want to be with: "oh baby you're a classic." I'm still trying to figure out who the "little hot mess" refers to. At first I thought it was the girl referred to in the song (perhaps Ashlee Simpson), but then I decided it might refer to Pete himself as he calls himself "a piece of art" in this song; just because Pete has low self-esteem ("mess") doesn't mean that he doesn't know that other people (especially adoring fangirls?) think that he's good-looking. To further reinforce the idea that the song is from Pete's point of view, the song begins with "I'm the cry baby," referencing the band's emo roots.

11. W.A.M.S.
"Hurry, hurry, you put my head in such a flurry. ... What makes you so special?"

The full name of this song is Waiter/Actor/Model/Singer - according to Genius.com, "[t]his is a reference to the stereotype of people who often move to Hollywood with aspirations of 'making it' as an actor or musician, but end up working jobs like being a waiter to make ends meet, yet still refer to themselves as all of those things when they aren’t yet 'professional'." The song definitely references the young and impressionable who are easily swayed by the ideas of the ones in charge of the media - "I'm a young one stuck in the box of an old one's head." With fame, "my head's in heaven," but real life is a different matter - "my soles are in hell," which could either refer to actual soles/feet being planted firmly in the real world, or it could be a pun on "souls" - referring to the idea from "27" that most celebrities fall into the gutter. All the young person/celebrity in question wants to do is fit in ("it's your club, so let me in"), but that only leads to his or her downfall because it is only by doing exactly what he or she is told, being made into a new person ("build me"), that he or she will get anywhere - "what makes you so special?" I like the way this song ends with Patrick Stump singing acapella.

12. 20 Dollar Nose Bleed (ft. Brendon Urie)
"Have you ever wanted to disappear and join a monastery?"

Brendon Urie of Panic! At the Disco appears again in this fun song (okay, the beat of the song is fun, maybe not the lyrics). One one hand, while this song is a drug reference ("Mr. Benzedrine" which causes a nose bleed)... however, the substance in question was used by soldiers in World War II to stay awake. Similarly, the lyrics also appear to reference President Bush ("when I look at the man who would be king") who "goes to the desert [for] the same war his dad rehearsed" (Iraq), coming back "with flags on coffins and said we won." In fact, Patrick Stump claims that "the rest of the proof is on the television."

Pete's poem at the end of the song is an interesting piece all on its own, referencing the media again ("the charts are boring") and how it affects Pete and other celebrities like him - riches ("I've got enough miles on my card / To fly the boys home on my own" but low self-esteem ("my ego's in a sling").

13. West Coast Smoker (ft. Debbie Harry)
"Knock once for the Father, twice for the Son, three times for the Holy Ghost."

I really love this song, but it's a little difficult to piece out its meaning. While some people have pointed out the "knock once for the Father, twice for the Son, three times for the Holy Ghost" as being codes for the buying and selling of drugs, others have pointed to politicians such as Bush who took drugs and was refused admission into Texas Law School ("my degree in the gutter"): "come on in the water's warm; come on in like a sugar cube; but with a kick in the head." Another person pointed out that "knock one for the father, twice for the son, three times for the holy ghost" may be alluding to Dante's Divine Comedy in which first part, Inferno, shows the power of the Father, the second part, Purgatory (the Wisdom of the Son), and finally the third, Paradise with the Love of the Holy Spirit. Then again, Inferno could be an allusion to the hell of "27" and "W.A.M.S." to which celebrities fall to. The celebrities of today seems like a viable reading - "your eyes are blocking my starlight." Perhaps the Trinity line then could be the celebrity/writer in question calling to God for help in his situation? He certainly is a confused person ("I'm a nervous wreck") who is unsure whether he should just keep going with "the drugs [that] make me reset" or perhaps God could help him - "the disorganized religion of my head."

Finally, what does the title of this album refer to? Folie à Deux means "a madness shared by two." Who are the two? Pete and Patrick? If so, what is the madness they share? The madness to continue in this toxic world of the media? That interpretation is interesting, seeing as the band went on a hiatus after this album. (I know this is a really wild interpretation, but if taking an English major has taught me anything, it's that the craziest interpretations are the ones that seem to have the most influence... although Pete's lyrics on this album suddenly make me realize that that might not be such a good thing.)

And now, for the moment of truth...

Favourite song(s): "Disloyal Order of Water Buffaloes" and "What a Catch, Donnie"
Alyianna's rating: 10 out of 10 (but that's my musical taste)
Flags? 1 warning flag for some lyrics

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