Fall Out Boy

Infinity on High (Island/Def Jam)

Fall Out Boy is both its own best friend and its very worst enemy. But neither subpar live shows, photos of bassist Pete Wentz's penis nor Internet fights with ex-friends can stop the pop-punk juggernaut. Any criticism lobbed at the Chicago quartet is addressed head-on or slyly incorporated into lyrics and videos, meaning that the band is practically immune to haters — which becomes even more infuriating when one realizes that Fall Out Boy also continues to write better songs than the majority of its peers. That's eminently clear on Infinity on High, the band's second major-label album and its first since 2005's From Under the Cork Tree made them heroes to the hoodie set. Despite even thicker coats of studio gloss painted over songs (a move that at times gives several tunes — specifically "The Carpal Tunnel of Love" — a generic edge), High contains catchier hooks, bigger choruses and more vocal histrionics than a MySpace flame war. It's also more diverse (the pensive piano ballad "Golden," a brief spoken-word intro by Jay-Z) and shockingly danceable, with handclaps, disco-flecked backbeats and a generally dynamic discotheque pulse snaking throughout. But High's best track is, hands-down, "Thnks Fr Th Mmrs," a predictably zing-laden song that's just monstrous. Spanish guitars, scissor-kicking harmonies, cinematic strings and minor chords crash together to form an arena-ready masterpiece.

 
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