"Serious" Fall Out Boy fans don't consider Infinity on High the band's best album. That honor is usually reserved for their 2005 breakout (and major-label debut), From Under the Cork Tree, or maybe their Fueled by Ramen pinnacle, 2003's Take This to Your Grave. But Infinity is a milestone nonetheless.
The 2007 album was a huge commercial success, certified platinum and spawning a clutch of smash singles (including F.O.B.'s highest chart-topper, "This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race"). But more importantly, it marked emo's true elevation to pop stardom -- and in the process, possibly sounded the death knell for both that scene and F.O.B. themselves. Born in suburban basements and clubs full of angsty, bored teenagers, the poppy, sensitive, sometimes snarky punk that came to be known as "emo" existed on a somewhat underground level for many years. But by the time of Infinity, it had officially hit the main stage, thanks in large part to Pete Wentz and company's big-time-baller lifestyles, pinup looks and celebrity relationships (especially Wentz' union with Ashlee Simpson). Fall Out Boy were no longer a bunch of perennially misunderstood kids from suburban Chicago. They were big stars.
And naturally, the moment their star rose to its perch in the pop constellation, it also began its descent. Emo comrades like My Chemical Romance and Panic! At the Disco followed a similar trajectory, releasing a huge smash album and then heading off in different directions. Meanwhile, from here, F.O.B. would unveil one more, decidedly less successful release (2008's Folie a Deux) before going on indefinite hiatus and spiraling into a series of solo projects and personal struggles that have only just now begun to straighten themselves out with the band's "comeback" single, this year's electrifying "My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark."
In other words, Infinity is undoubtedly a culturally significant album. And even if the songs don't quite musically measure up to, say, "Dance, Dance," tracks like "This Ain't a Scene" and "Thnks Fr Th Mmrs" are serious, satisfying slices of pop punk. So, we've assembled a Source Material guide that speaks to both where F.O.B. (and by extension, emo) were at the time, where they'd come from and maybe even where they were going. You'll find albums representing the band's emo, hardcore and pop punk DNA, from Sunny Day Real Estate to Bad Religion, Dookie to Pinkerton. And you'll find selections from other serious rockers who seriously embraced the kind of tongue-in-chic campiness F.O.B. have always espoused, from Guns N' Roses' flamboyant rock drama to Queen's operatic proto-metal. And finally, you'll find albums by other bands and movements that rose from the underground to a comparable level of fleeting superstardom (looking at you, hair metal and grunge). Lighters up!