Fall Out Boy

It turns out the best new Fall Out Boy song isn't on the new Fall Out Boy album. The import-only "The Music or the Misery" is a riff on the classic Nick Hornby passage -- the one about the connection between a childhood spent listening to sad songs and a life of grown-up angst. It's an idea so ripe for stealing it's a wonder no enterprising, semi-literate emo band thought of it before. And it neatly encapsulates everything that's good about Fall Out Boy, a modestly brainy foursome who never saw a pop-cultural totem they couldn't swipe.

Fall Out Boy recently landed atop the "TRL" chart thanks to "Sugar, We're Goin' Down," a not-quite-four-minute blast of cotton candy that's one of the summer's great singles.

Most of what's on the band's new disc sounds a lot like it; it's pop-punk cleanly and efficiently done, with so many extravagantly infectious hooks it eventually ceases to be punk at all.

Fall Out Boy manages to do a lot within the confines of a genre -- call it MTVEmo -- long ago strip-mined of its few good ideas. Most of its songs examine life in a semi-famous band, exact revenge upon ex-girlfriends, or both ("I'm just a notch in your bedpost / But you're just a line in a song").

"Cork Tree" is wordy and smart, successfully referencing everything from "Sixteen Candles" to "Casablanca." Only "Atavan Halen" falls flat, but this probably couldn't be helped: If there was a memorable song to be written about Van Halen and Schedule IV narcotics, Van Halen would probably have written it already.

-- Allison Stewart