After seven albums, you’d think Fall Out Boy would have chosen a style and stuck with it, but MANIA proves that this is a band who don’t give a shit about what people expect from them.
There’s no competition when it comes down to the best songs on the album, and those are Church and Wilson (Expensive Mistakes).
The latter sounds most similar to Fall Out Boy’s older material, although the hackneyed lyric “I’ll stop wearing black when they make a darker colour” shows a marked departure from the lyrical prowess showcased in their earlier albums.
Meanwhile, Church is flawless.
When it begins it’s understated but not boring. By the end of the song vocalist Patrick Stump is performing vocal riffs that could challenge the likes of Panic! at the Disco’s Brendon Urie. Pouring his heart and soul into the three-and-a-half-minute performance, it alone makes MANIA worth the purchase. It’s one of the strongest songs in Fall Out Boy’s back catalogue and it will undoubtedly make an impact on their fans.
Opener Stay Frosty Royal Milk Tea has a promising beginning, the fast drumbeat propelling the listener out of the gate and into a 35-minute rollercoaster ride.
As it approaches the chorus, however, things take a turn for the worst. Stump slips into the worst French accent since ‘Allo ‘Allo! as he yells, “Are you smelling that shit?/Eau du Resistance!”. It wins the award for most cringe worthy moment in Fall Out Boy’s history.
Young and Menace is a low point. If you thought the band’s contribution to the Ghostbusters soundtrack was bad, run as fast as you can and never look back.
The first minute of the song is bearable, but the chorus is as painful as someone repeatedly stabbing you in the ear drums with a cactus. It goes on for 45 seconds, and it happens three times.
In the tracks second chorus Stump croons, “Woke up on the wrong side of reality”, and that’s exactly how listening to MANIA makes you feel. The majority of tracks on this album don’t sound like Fall Out Boy. Who would have thought that they’d be sampling Britney Spears or dabbling with dubstep?
Then there’s Sunshine Riptide.
“The sign says don’t t-tap the glass/But I read it in reverse,” Stump shares, before the line is played in reverse: an obvious but unnecessary choice.
Burna Boy’s reggae influence is a redeeming factor, adding to the summery feel of a song which is bound to be showcased during the festival season.
However, apart from those three songs the rest of MANIA is palatable verging on impressive.
Singles Last of the Real Ones and HOLD ME TIGHT OR DON’T are passionless, but they do their job. They get stuck in your brain and make it impossible to resist singing along, even if you’ve only heard them once.
The same can be said for Champion: it’s repetitive, but that makes it unforgettable.
On the other hand, Heaven’s Gate and Bishops Knife Fight are both well-written, complex songs, but compared to the hectic nature of the rest of the album, they are at risk of being passed by.
Heaven’s Gate is a gorgeous piano-driven ballad, while Bishops Knife Fight is reminiscent of Fourth of July and could easily have slotted in to the American Beauty/American Psycho album, but neither of the songs stand out enough to make an impression.
Overall, MANIA isn’t terrible, but it’s certainly not a return to the good old days of From Under the Cork Tree.
Change is good, in moderation. With this album, it feels as though Fall Out Boy have taken things a step too far.