It's hard to believe now that they are regularly filling enormodomes around the world but, just 7 short years ago, Fall Out Boy were in a tricky position when fourth (official) album Folie à Deux was greeted with a far more muted response than any of their previous efforts. It's perceived failure led to the band's extended hiatus and almost stopped them altogether.
Here's the thing though - it's their best record. By a mile.
I unashamedly love Fall Out Boy, From Under The Cork Tree hitting at the peak of my teenage angst, providing the soundtrack to our debauched days of underage drinking in public parks and other basic truancy. I've since seen them live several times and always keep track of their new material even now. But make no mistake, the Fall Out Boy you love today would never exist without Folie à Deux, an album that, led by Patrick's soul voice stylings, first pushed them into newer, bigger directions, free of the pop punk labels that had defined them early on.
Take the opening track, "Disloyal Order Of Water Buffaloes":
Suddenly, we are no longer in the beat up Chicago garage of Take This To Your Grave or the rock n roll concert hall of Infinity On High but somewhere even grander. This is songwriting in the classic sense of the term; simple, no frills, all effort focused on melody.
The rest of the record then plays like a journey through the various eras of the band. Lead single "I Don't Care" wouldn't sound out of place on either of the first two records; the presence of Lil Wayne and Pharrell Williams furthers the hip-hop experimentation of Infinity; the Brendon Urie duet "20 Dollar Nose Bleed" nods towards the ongoing relationship with Pete's famous proteges.
But most impressive of all is the album's main set-piece: the almost 5 minute long, piano-led opus "What A Catch, Donnie".
Listening back now you can hear the obvious influence this would have on later material, specifically the honest, Elton-starring "Save Rock 'N' Roll" and the arena ballad "Jet Pack Blues". This style may seem to be a key part of the current trajectory of FOB but, at the time, this was a real risk for the band, the layering of lines from some of their earlier hits over the dieing refrain almost acknowledging that this is the moment they've been building too.
In 2008, the record was met with initially positive reviews but it's medium sales were not enough to carry the momentum they needed to stay in the zeitgeist. Subsequently, the only track to get a regular live airing in recent years has been "I Don't Care", it's most conventional song. But hopefully, in time, Folie à Deux will be looked back on as, alongside Pretty. Odd., one of the boldest mainstream rock records of recent years.
Newer fans should give it a spin - they wouldn't be here without it.