Fall Out Boy, M A N I A | Album Review
Following a ‘botched’ promo campaign, pop-punk darlings Fall Out Boy saves face on its seventh studio album, M A N I A.
M A N I A, the seventh studio album by Fall Out Boy, has finally arrived. Originally due to be released in September 2017, M A N I A encountered a sizable speed bump – the horrid “Young and Menace.” Arguably, the flop of the aforementioned promo has ‘thrown a wrench’ into the success of promo campaign as a whole. Nonetheless, M A N I A, despite the delay, has its share of moments.
“Young and Menace”
Quoting the late Amy Winehouse, “what kind of f*ckery is this?” The questionable, suspect “Young and Menace” kicks off M A N I A. Why? Ultimately, “Young and Menace” is the oddest, most off-putting Fall Out Boy single to date. Re-listening to it within the context of M A N I A, it’s not quite as egregious as it was on first impression. Still, it’s a messy attempt at artistic evolution gone wrong. Likely, the band is thinking “let’s get this over with.”
“Champion” may not be a God-save for Fall Out Boy following “Young and Menace,” but the record has its fair share of pros. Stump delivers a more understated approach to the vocals on the verse, which is thoughtful. Naturally, he powers through on the chorus which is catchy, despite a lack of deep or flashy lyrics. The production is well-rounded; the focus on guitars as opposed to synths is a plus for the band.
“Stay Frosty Royal Milk Tea”
“Stay Frosty Royal Milk Tea” gets the honors of the best song title. Stump reminisces about the past and references his issues. He’s determined to get out of his own way:
“The only thing that’s ever stopping me is me, hey! / I testify if I die in my sleep / Then know that my life was just a killer dream, … /Are you smelling that shit? / Eau de résistance.”
Pop and Fall Out Boy go together without a hitch on standout “HOLD ME TIGHT OR DON’T.” A departure from the music they’ve released in the past, regardless, “HOLD ME TIGHT OR DON’T” sounds modern and eclectic like modern pop. The lyrics aren’t particularly deep, but the lyrical highlights hail from the pre-chorus and the chorus. The emo is amplified on the pre-chorus:
“And when your stitch comes loose / I wanna sleep on every piece of fuzz / And stuffing that comes out of you, you / I took too many hits off this memory / I need to come down.”
That emo-ness continues on throughout the chorus, where it’s clear this relationship needs max effort or to be curbed.
“The Last of the Real Ones”
“The Last of the Real Ones”, the third single, keeps the momentum going. Commencing with rhythmic piano, the production work is superb. “Last of the Real Ones” offers powerful, dynamic vocals courtesy of Stump. He’s amped up early-on, slaughtering the rhythmic melody that graces the record throughout. Expectedly, the chorus is aggressive, catchy, and hard-hitting.
“If I could get my shit together / I’m gonna run away and never see any of you again.” Sigh, “Wilson (Expensive Mistakes)” is among the crème de la crème of M A N I A. It opens with a Clash sample, “Straight to Hell.” Patrick Stump is invested, delivering solid, distorted, rhythmic vocals. The pre-chorus is memorable, blending Stump’s smooth, soulful delivery with the coarseness of the distortion. the chorus is epic – boisterous, intense, and turned up to the nth degree. By the final iteration, things are hella heavy.
The spirit is lifted with “Church,” a pop-punk gospel song that has nothing to do with the church itself or God. Stump delivers some of his most high-flying, soaring pipes, as he professes his love, to her of course. Fittingly, the soulful “Heaven’s Gate” follows, contrasting everything in the Fall Out Boy catalogue up until this point. Call this Stump’s stab at R&B with the context of the band (he’s already done it as a solo artist on Soul Punk).
The final two numbers are a bit less thrilling. “Sunshine Riptide,” featuring Burna Boy, is interesting if a bit odd, with its reggae touches and busy production work. It benefits from another solid chorus. “Bishops Knife Trick” isn’t too shabby, yet doesn’t quite have the impact one envisions that the band envisioned it to have – if that makes any sense. It’s not a miss, just not necessarily a standout.
Now comes the million-dollar question. How does M A N I A stack up? M A N I A gives Fall Out Boy another enjoyable album, without question. That said, it’s all over the place, like most modern pop albums. Some songs work, such as “Wilson (Expensive Mistakes)” or “Church,” while others fall short (“Young and Menace” first and foremost).
Gems: “HOLD ME TIGHT OR DON’T,” “The Last of the Real Ones,” “Wilson (Expensive Mistakes)” & “Church”
Fall Out Boy • M A N I A • Island • Release: 1.19.18
Photo Credit: Island