The Critics Corner | Albums

Mania Stalwart Chicago pop-punkers try something new with seventh studio album
Hey Violet
Luanne Lim Album name: Mania
Label: Island
Release date: January 19, 2018
My rating: 3.0 out of 5

Review written by: Luanne Lim
When listening to Fall Out Boy’s latest release, you almost have to clear your mind of any previous notions you have of the pop-punk band. For their seventh album, the four-piece experiments with different sounds, straying away from the usual. In an interview with Rolling Stone, bassist and lyricist Pete Wentz described the album as “a big palette cleanse.”

To kick off the cleanse is the EDM-influenced track “Young and Menace”. The album’s first single and first song, it sets the tone for the rest of M A N I A. While Patrick Stump’s voice is clearly evident, it’s almost overshadowed by the amount of “sick” beats and voice effects. It definitely provides an interesting start to an album, but it does accurately sets the tone for the remaining tracks.

Following “Young and Menace” is “Champion”. Co-written with Sia, the song is among the few that [somewhat] reflects the Fall Out Boy sound that fans love and recognize. Again, since Mania is the band’s venture into the EDM scene, it relies heavily on beats and repetitiveness over lyrics and vocals.

Joining “Champion” in resounding the band’s usual pop-punk sound is track number three. Almost an homage to old-school FOB song titles, “Stay Frosty Royal Milk Tea” is just as mind-boggling as their lengthier titles from Take This to Your Grave and From Under the Cork Tree. The song itself is a powerful track, full of pop punk goodness. It’s  powerful, defiant. almost angry - but in the best of ways.  

With a music video inspired by Día de Muertos, or Day of the Dead, the fourth single “HOLD ME TIGHT OR DON’T” does reflect some Spanish-elements. While I can’t pinpoint exactly what kind of Latin-style dance the song reminds me of, it’s a unique track that stands out from the rest. You’ll be singing along to the “N-N-N-N”’s all day.

My two personal favorites from Mania are “The Last of the Real Ones” and “Wilson (Expensive Mistakes)”. To me, like “Champion” they reflect the pop-punk sound that usually comes from Fall Out Boy. And, as the saying goes - if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.

Following these tracks is “Church”. A metaphorical song, it, like “Young and Menace” is a bit too repetitive. Compared to other tracks, “Church” falls somewhat short in lyrical variety and overall uniqueness.

“Heaven’s Gate” would be the designated ballad of the album. The single track from Mania that truly reflects Patrick Stump’s powerhouse vocals, it kicks off with a beautiful, strong note, continues with it, and ends on an equally beautiful and strong note.

If you didn’t think pop-punk and reggae would blend well, Fall Out Boy presents you with “Sunshine Riptide”. It’s one of those tracks that make you scratch your head in confusion. Featuring Nigerian reggae-dancehall singer Burna Boy, “Sunshine Riptide” has reggae elements that surprisingly seem to work well with the song. An interesting listen, for sure.

Joining the ballad ranks of “Heaven’s Gate” is the final song of the album, “Bishop Knife Trick”. While it provides a slow close to Mania, it isn’t as powerful nor does it stand out as much as “Heaven’s Gate”.

Overall, Mania isn’t bad, but it seems to fall short in Fall Out Boy standards. While there are a handful of songs that reflect the usual FOB sound, the rest of the album clearly deviates from it - which can be good or bad, depending on how you like your Fall Out Boy.
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