Fall Out Boy recently played a handful of hush-hush shows at smaller venues it outgrew years ago, including a beyond-sold-out stop at Harpers Ferry in Allston last month. It was a nice gesture for the fans who have made Fall Out Boy a household name.
The novelty of a club setting was irresistible: Fall Out Boy's music is tailor-made for blasting out to the last balcony of the stadium. Everything about the band is outsized - from lead singer Patrick Stump's soaring vocals to bassist (and new dad) Pete Wentz's "guyliner" and high-profile marriage to Ashlee Simpson.
The intimate shows were also meant to rouse excitement for Fall Out Boy's new album, "Folie à Deux," which is out tomorrow but streaming now on MySpace. The emo-rock quartet had originally planned to release the album on Nov. 4 but then decided it didn't want to contend with the outcome of the presidential election.
Curiously, apart from a few quasi-political choruses ("change will come!"), this is not Fall Out Boy's grand commentary on the state of the union. It's simply another sturdy album that plays up what Fall Out Boy does best: rocking the arena with barely a second to catch your breath.
"Folie à Deux" translates to a number of things, none of which sound particularly eloquent in English. "Folie" can refer to something that's so extravagant and wonderful it's out of the ordinary; "à deux" simply means together. Or the phrase could also denote "a madness shared by two, a rare psychiatric syndrome in which a symptom of psychosis (particularly a paranoid or delusional belief) is transmitted from one individual to another." (Thank you, Wikipedia).
It's tough to say what the band meant with that title, but madness is certainly an emotion that sets in after 13 songs that tend to bleed into one big hook. The album is short on a sense of dynamics, which the slower "What a Catch, Donnie" attempts and almost accomplishes until the sweeping chorus puts the band back at full throttle.
You can't fault Fall Out Boy for its energy, though. That's its bread and butter. "Disloyal Order of Water Buffaloes" opens on a brash, defiant note, a call to arms to "boycott love, detox just to retox." (And no, that song title doesn't make any more sense even after repeated listens.)
Bad pun aside, "America's Suitehearts" lampoons our national obsession with celebrities, but the bombastic chorus muddies the band's point with a contradictory message: "Let's hear it for America's suitehearts/ But I must confess/ I'm in love with my own sins."
Elsewhere, Fall Out Boy takes some unexpected detours that pay off. Rapper Lil Wayne, one of a few guest stars, shows up for a brief cameo on "Tiffany Blews." On "w.a.m.s.," there's a strange but refreshing interlude with various harmonies floating from one speaker to the next before fading out to an a cappella voice that sounds like Elvis Presley channeling Robert Johnson. It's a welcome coda to an album that needed a breather right from the start.
James Reed can be reached at email@example.com.