Review: Fall Out Boy — Mania

Categories:  The Arts    Music
Wednesday, January 31st, 2018 at 6:40 PM
Review: Fall Out Boy — Mania by Macala Leigey

                                                                                    ★★☆☆☆

Appropriately titled “Mania,” due to the excessive use of synthetic beats and a hodgepodge of pop, rock, R&B and electronic melodies, Fall Out Boy’s new album strays from their original alternative rock, emo roots in an unexpected, and for most early-2000s-FOB fans, less than satisfactory way.

Being the third album crafted by the well-known pop-punk band since coming back from their 2009 hiatus, and following their 2015 album, “American Beauty/American Psycho,” “Mania” incorporates a much different sound than most FOB fans are used to.

Released on Jan. 19, “Mania” is Fall Out Boy’s seventh studio album, and considerably, the band’s most controversial album yet. Essentially wandering farther away from their brash rock origins with each new record, Fall Out Boy infuses the 10-track “Mania” album with an assortment of electropop and harsh synthesized tunes — starting with the lead track on the album, “Stay Frosty Royal Milk Tea.”

Upholding their tradition of rather odd song titles, this song starts the album off with an intense, drilling kick drum beat, which is then paired with classic FOB underdog lyrics, “Some princes don’t become kings / Even at the best of times I’m out of my mind.”

Fading with an apparently (un)necessary explosion sound effect, the album flows into its second track, and quite possibly the best song on the entire record, “The Last of the Real Ones.” This song leads with a soft piano sequence and then slowly builds with a drum and guitar combo, until bursting into a rather nostalgic, aggressive chorus.

Before straying into a rather diverse mix of electronic pop tunes, the band holds true to their angsty, alternative rock roots for two other standout tracks: “Wilson (Expensive Mistakes)” and “Church.”

Aptly placed back to back to each other, “Wilson (Expensive Mistakes),” reminisces with Fall Out Boy’s lead man, Patrick Stump, straining beautifully cynical lyrics, including, “I always make such expensive mistakes…I’ll stop wearing black when they make a darker color.”

While the fifth track, “Church,” revisits the band’s sultry, “From Under the Cork Tree” days, with rough rock beats and strenuous, mischievous lyrics — “If you were church, I’d get on my knees /  Confess my love, I’d know where to be.” Though impish in spirit, this song, ironically, may be the very salvation of this album for those who admire Fall Out Boy for their musically sly, rebellious style.

Beyond the fifth track, with the exception of the third song on the album — “Hold Me Tight or Don’t,” which embraces a slight Caribbean/tribal vibe — the “Mania” album begins to diverge into a variation of unfamiliar tones for FOB.

Incidentally, following “Church” is “Heaven’s Gate,” — very clever boys — which abruptly slows down the tempo of the album with a romantic, gentle — possibly straight out of a sappy 80’s movie high school dance scene — sound. However, the softer melody properly frames Stump’s robust, soulful voice, which remains one of the band’s strongest assets.

The album then takes an interesting turn (for the worse) with the eighth and ninth tracks. “Sunshine Riptide” featuring Burna Boy mixes auto tuned vocals and background synths to create a bearable coastal tune, much unlike the album’s ninth track, “Young and Menace.”

Teasing listeners with a promising, calm beginning, sure to build up into a lyrically genius chorus and a catchy blend of bold beats, “Young and Menace,” severely disappoints. The single was the first song to be dropped from the “Mania” album, and for obvious reasons, did not go over well with fans.

With an unofficial Britney Spears reference, the song loses any great expectations before it even gets to the chorus, which inflicts a cringe-worthy response all on its own. A disastrous mashup of EDM techniques, heavy rock tones and distorted vocals serve as the center piece of the band’s (failed) attempt to combine electropop and alt rock in one song.

After crafting a musical mess in “Young and Menace,” Fall Out Boy ends the album with a slightly less repulsive track, “Bishops Knife Trick,” which utilizes familiar classic rock methods to create the longest track on the record.

Overall, “Mania” certainly doesn’t scream, “album of the year,” but thanks to a select few tracks reviving the band’s beloved alternative rock, precarious style, the record is deemed worthy of a listen. Throughout the album Fall Out Boy proves they still have some musical risks up their sleeves, and a definite will to diversify their sound – even if it leads to shear mania among their long-time fan base.

Stream "Mania" below:

Macala Leigey can be reached at musics.spectator@gmail.com. 

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