To say Take This To Your Grave sold better than expected would be an understatement, 200-300k copies sold for a small band nobody really knew about prior to 2003 is HUGE, especially considering they were signed to Fueled By Ramen at the time which was not nearly as big as they are today. So they decided to sign with Island for their 2nd record as they seemed to be outgrowing their old label and work for their 2nd album was in motion.
Things went...well the recording process went well, but they seemed to have difficulty really achieving what they were going for, scrapping songs and writing new ones all the time, nothing exactly new for a band following up a successful record but still. In early 2005 things went to shit for a bit following Pete's suicide attempt which ended up being reflected on a bit on this record.
So with all of that in mind...how did it turn out? You already saw the rating, let's not bullshit around here, this is pop punk perfection, some of the best the genre has to offer and it showcases everything that made Fall Out Boy such a big thing back in the 2000s.
The album starts with the sounds of cameras clicking before the song kicks into motion with a somewhat heavy and loud guitar riff. Our Lawyer Made Us Change the Name of This Song So We Wouldn’t Get Sued (Originally titled David Ruffin and The Temptations) sets the scene perfectly, showing off the pop punk sound of the record. The lyrics are somewhat tongue and cheek, they're talking about their fame, it's sorta sarcastic ("Besides, we've got such good fashion sense") and also self aware ("We're only good for the latest trends"). There's some interesting lines, I like how they open the album by telling you to "put this record down" because they're "bad news" and they'll leave you "high and dry". As an opener it does it's job well enough, I think it's a really memorable track, personally I love it a lot, it's really fun, the production is quite great, it sounds poppy but also doesn't lose any of it's more rock edge coming from the guitars.
And before I move on I obviously have to point this out, the album is pretty samey, I don't think it's a bad thing on this album since with this album it's pretty much all killer no filler, everytime I thought a song was sorta forgettable I'd listen to it again and instantly remember everything about it, the hooks on this album are perfect. The writing is obviously something you'll either hate or love, I personally love it, it seems like a lot of time was spent on each lyric and even though not every lyric is amazing exactly, I think Fall Out Boy still kicked it out of the park, their writing style has always been unique to them and honestly it's miles above anything else at the time that wasn't from either Panic! or MCR. However I'd be lying if I didn't say some songs can feel a bit disjointed lyrically. Like yeah it is part of their charm that sometimes all the lyrics sound pretty cool but together they make 0 sense and everytime you think you got the answer right you notice that contradicts another part of the song.
Oh and what better example than Sugar, We’re Goin Down which is a fantastic and iconic single from the band and it's about...it's about...ugh..about...well...something. Yeah that'll do, it's about something. Okay but seriously I have no clue what this song truly is actually about, I mean besides not understanding most of the stuff that comes out of Patrick's mouth, reading the lyrics doesn't exactly help much either. It seems to be about a guy who's in love with someone that's already in a relationship but that doesn't fit throughout the whole song just a single verse so maybe it's like...ugh...y'know I'm just gonna say nobody ever listens to this specific song for the lyrics. It's appeal is its really fun and heartfelt vibe put together with that iconic chorus and it's youthful charm that really make the song as good as it is.
Of All The Gin Joints In The World seems to be about a relationship where they don't really know each other and are more in it for the sex than anything else. I like the line "We're making out inside crashed cars", it's a cool way to represent the state of the relationship and how even though you're enjoying making out, everything besides that is just crashing down and it's acknowledging that the relationship is pretty much doomed. I also like the sarcastic undertone behind the line "And oh, the way your makeup stains my pillowcase Like I'll never be the same" where the relationship didn't really leave that big of an impact on him as they don't really mean much for each other. It's a pretty solid track overall, not my favorite on the album but man is it catchy, I swear the way Patrick sings "the WAAAAAAYYYYY" is a lot more catchy than it probably should.
Then we have the one two punch of Dance, Dance and Sugar, We're Going Down which are the 2 biggest hits on the album and probably some of their most recognizable songs.
Dance, Dance is probably the first time the band went into more pop-rock territory and it works extremely well, obviously going from pop punk to more pop-rock sounds shouldn't be too hard but still it's done effectively well, only helped by that great bassline and that monster of a hook. The song details a dance, most likely a school dance, where a boy tries to confront his girlfriend for cheating, ending the relationship but also wanting to delay it by dancing with her for as long as possible knowing once the dance is finished it'll be over. First verse serves as a inner monologue with himself as he details his failed attempt at confronting her:
"She says she's no good With words, but I'm worse Barely stuttered out A joke of a romantic stuck to my tongue Weighed down with words too Overdramatic"
The pre chorus has him "two quarters and a heart down" which I think refers to a jukebox, as he puts quarters to play more songs that they can dance to. In the 2nd verse we see him telling her that he knows that she plans on dumping him before he could find out her secret but since he already knows he tells her to "drink up" to make her confession easier however it's on the bridge where he directly confronts her about it ("Why don't you show me the little bit of spine You've been saving for his mattress, love I only want sympathy in the form of you Crawling into bed with me"). With all of this in mind I think it makes the chorus all the more effective as it shows a real sign of desperation as he keeps telling her to dance knowing once the dance stops the relationship will be over for good even if he still has some feelings for her ("And I don't want to forget how your voice sounds" from the pre chorus). The build in intensity as the bridge comes in also helps the song a lot contextually.
This is a fantastic track showcasing Pete at his best in terms of storytelling and Patrick conveying Pete's words better than ever.
After we have Sugar, We're Going Down which again, is pretty great. That's followed by Nobody Puts Baby In The Corner. Ironically, this song is about being/wanting to be in a relationship with someone that already has a partner...mfs shameless I'll say that lol. I don't have much to say about this one but man that chorus is so infectious and catchy.
I’ve Got a Dark Alley and a Bad Idea That Says You Should Shut Your Mouth (Summer Song) is a slower and more lowkey track. Song touches on Pete's struggles with depression and how fame has made it even worse. The chorus is pretty interesting, the line "the lies just won't stop slipping" might be him saying that he's lying to everyone around him, telling them he's okay when he isn't. "And besides, my reputation's on the line" I think is him being afraid that if he tries to get help he might lose his reputation, in the next lines he's talking about how he can just fake it "for the airwaves" and force a smile. He says he's "half dead" from comparing himself to everyone around him as he feels like everyone's lives are better than his and everyone's doing better than him which makes him feel even worse.
In the first verse he's saying that he is like "the kids who feel like dead ends" which I think says that he feels like he'll never get better or make anything of himself, he's stuck at a dead end. In the next line he says that he wants to be known for his 'hits' not just his 'misses', pretty self explanatory, talking about how he doesn't want to be remembered for his failures. The next line is "I took a shot and didn't even come close" refers to his failed suicide attempt, and I think the line before might be him saying that he wants to be known for who he was, not for his suicide.
In the first pre chorus we have the line "And the poets are just kids who didn't make it And never had it, at all" which I think is really interesting, I think here when he says “the poets” he is really talking about himself, and saying that he is a poet because he never “made it”, like he is creatively driven by his failures and his issues and “never had it, at all” would be him saying that he never had a chance to ‘make it’ in the first place.
The 2nd verse is quite dark: “Please put the doctor on the phone, 'cause I'm not making any sense” which is referring to his suicide attempt when he tried to overdose on antidepressants. “Blame everyone but me for this mess” is him wanting to not acknowledge and own up to the fact that this is his doing, possibly out of shame for his actions. “And my back has been breaking from this heavy heart” would be him feeling so many things weighing down on him to the point where his anxiety got so bad his back started to hurt from it.
I think this is probably one of the best songs on the record. I think these are some of Pete’s most personal and dark lyrics on the project, Patrick really sells the sadness throughout and the song feels really compelling tbh.
The next song 7 Minutes in Heaven (Atavan Halen) is...also about his struggles with depression, Atavan being a reference to Ativan, the drug he overdosed on. Oh boy so much for the happy catchy pop punk vibe of this thing. It’s a bit more hopeful than the last however. In this one he is trying to cope with his mental issues by spending as much time as he can with his partner so he doesn’t have to be alone. The chorus does touch on how desperate it all is, as he says he keeps telling himself that he’s not the desperate type but she gave him something to look forward to everyday (talking to her/being with her). And it’s not exactly wholesome, it’s framed more in a desperate way.
“Sitting out dances on the wall
Trying to forget everything that isn't you
I'm not going home alone 'Cause I don't do too well on my own”
He wants to alienate himself from everything in his life that isn’t her essentially.
Sophomore Slump or Comeback of the Year comes next, the title is essentially the band themselves asking if the album will be a sophomore slump or a success. Song starts with the chorus but slower and more stripped back. I think the song is about them finding their formula for success and acknowledging it and how it’ll make them bigger but ask if their music will decline in quality because of that.
I quite like the writing on this song, think what makes this song compelling is the acknowledgement of their flaws and how even though they found the perfect formula there’ll be a point where it’ll be exposed and people won’t buy into it anymore and the fact they decide to act on it with the promise that they’ll burn down their fame and success (or “city” in this song) shows that at the end of the day they’d rather make good music than successful music but also they know that they aren’t the ones who decide how it goes down but the fans so the song is aimed at the listener and lets them decide for themselves if the band is “growing up” or “going down”.
Champagne for My Real Friends, Real Pain for My Sham Friends is another song about fame, I like the stabs at bands that try and outdo every one of their projects but fail miserably, and honestly given the timing of this album’s release I think they could be talking about Coldplay since the hate train for them started in 05 (same year as this album) with X&Y where they tried to just take what worked and make it bigger which was seen as a failure for a lot of people...also the 2nd line of the song is “a rush of blood to the head”. But obviously it’s not just about Coldplay or maybe it’s not about any specific act. Honestly I don't have much to say about this song, it’s probably my least favorite on the album although it’s still a great pop punk banger for the record.
I like the more sarcastic lines on the first verse of I Slept with Someone in Fall Out Boy and All I Got Was This Stupid Song Written About Me about being the first band to write about “hearts, lies, and friends”. This is a pretty nice breakup track, has one of my fav hooks on the record, always brings me back to summer of 2019 when I started listening to them. The bridge of the song has this emo vibe to it coming from the featured vocals of Chad Gilbert (dude from new found glory).
Then we have A Little Less Sixteen Candles, a Little More “Touch Me”, it’s basically about someone who fucked up a relationship and now wants to fix it and fails, I think at least. I love this song a ton, the chorus is extremely memorable and man that opening riff is really great.
Get Busy Living or Get Busy Dying (Do Your Part to Save the Scene and Stop Going to Shows) is probably the worst song on the album all things considered, like it’s pretty repetitive and that poem at the end from Pete is so fucking edgy and the bridge sounds like Pete and Patrick are trying to finish each others sentences and istg when they both sing “matter” I can just picture them high fiving, no clue why but that’s what I’m picturing everytime I hear it. And yet the marching feel of the song, the desperation coming from Patrick’s vocals in the later half of the song are pretty great and honestly, that bridge is really fun and charming in a way, even Pete’s edgelord spoken word thing at the end is gloriously edgy in a way I can get behind. Honestly been coming back to it quite a lot lately.
XO (yes obviously the album with the ridiculously long song titles ends with a song simply called “XO”) is the closer, it’s one of the angstier songs on the record and while it’s not one of the best songs on the record I still think it’s quite great, the chorus is killer, the drumming is quite great and it ends the album on a satisfying note.
And that’s from under the cork tree, not their best, I think IOH and FOD are better, but this album is pop punk at it’s best imo, I really dig the writing style, Patrick’s vocals are amazing. Idk there’s hooks for days on this album. It made FOB huge and the album aged quite well for a mid 2000s pop punk record.
Fav Tracks: Our Lawyer Made Us Change the Name of This Song So We Wouldn't Get Sued, Of All the Gin Joints in All the World, Dance Dance, Sugar, We're Goin Down, I've Got a Dark Alley and a Bad Idea That Says You Should Shut Your Mouth (Summer Song), 7 Minutes in Heaven (Atavan Halen), Sophomore Slump or Comeback of the Year, I Slept with Someone in Fall Out Boy and All I Got Was This Stupid Song Written About Me, A Little Less Sixteen Candles, a Little More "Touch Me" and Get Busy Living or Get Busy Dying (Do Your Part to Save the Scene and Stop Going to Shows)