The wait is finally over. After delaying the release, multiple teasers, singles and a North American tour, Fall Out Boy’s seventh studio album, Mania, is available in full. Having already revealed four tracks from the album, fans were left wondering how much more and exactly what to expect from Mania. With the mixed reaction the first single, ‘Young and Menace’, received, there was debate about which direction the band would take the album in. However, in unpredictable Fall Out Boy fashion, Mania is a collection of songs from previously uncharted waters as well as those already conquered. From the upbeat start of ‘Young and Menace’ through the storm of ‘Church’ to arrive at the calm of ‘Bishops Knife Trick’, Mania is a journey through genres.
Mania begins with ‘Young and Menace,’ a song that already had people on the fence about the album, but love it or hate it, you cannot deny the crucial role it played in the creation of Mania. The track was the one that inspired Fall Out Boy to record a full album after Patrick Stump (lead vocals and rhythm guitar) approached Pete Wentz (bassist) with the early stages of the song.Although not being everyone’s cup of tea, the electro-rock song has proven Fall Out Boy’s power of genre jumping. My initial reaction to the song was overwhelmed by the shock of hearing the band producing this kind of music but now I find myself straining my vocal chords every time that chorus hits. Amazingly, the song sounds even better live, answering worried fans questions about how such a moderated song could be performed.
From the break out of ‘Young and Menace’, the album continues into the more radio friendly ‘Champion’. An uplifting, inspiring song delivered in a familiar, classic Fall Out Boy pop-rock style but still with experimental elements. ‘Champion’ is an underdog anthem full of powerful vocals and an even more powerful message of remembering all you have survived to help you beat what is to come. One of the reasons Fall Out Boy are so beloved by their fanbase is because of how honest they are with their fans and the effort they make to connect with them. Never shying away from sensitive topics but instead shouting them out for all the world to hear, ‘Champion’ is an encapsulation of all of this.
Continuing with the band’s more recognisable sound, ‘The Last of the Real Ones’ and ‘HOLD ME TIGHT OR DON’T’ are two songs with romantic themes. ‘The Last of the Real Ones’ offers a more synth-pop sound and has been described by Pete Wentz as a song about ‘falling in love with somebody whose glitches line up exactly with yours.’ In a world full of fabricated lives through social media, it’s important to remember that nobody is perfect and that’s exactly what we need more of in the world. ‘HOLD ME TIGHT OR DON’T’ is a song that had my heart from the teasers visualising the Mexican Day Of The Dead festival. With the release of the song, it is a captivation of pure beauty and uncontrollable rhythm.
The third track on the album is the first to offer something we have yet to hear, an unrelenting track going by the unusual name of ‘Stay Frosty Royal Milk Tea.’ Fall Out Boy have always encouraged fans to take up arms against the world that threatens to drag them down, the band also having to fight against the media and personal battles. ‘Stay Frosty Royal Milk Tea’ contains themes of celebrity culture and the chaos within that culture but can also be applied to the chaos of everyday life. The stand out lyric is ‘the only thing that’s ever stopping me is me’, meaning the only limitation being placed upon you is you. The world has no domain over who you are, and you should never give it the chance to try.
‘Church’ and Heaven’s Gate’ contain some of the most poetic and one of my personal favourite lyrics from the whole of Mania. Both songs are filled with religious metaphors that connect on a deep, spiritual level that idolise love in pure worship. ‘Church’ is a sobering song dressed in an upbeat sound, the lyrics and narrative provided by the music video painting a picture of forbidden love. If the song had been around during the production of Baz Luhrmann’s modern day telling of Romeo and Juliet, it no doubt would have made it onto the soundtrack. ‘Heaven’s Gate’ is a soulful ballad about a love that transcends the boundaries of earth and is the song that begins to slow down the vibe of the album. Described by Patrick as ‘natural’ to all of the band members explains the complete effortlessness of the track and the simple beauty of it. Both songs are a showcase of Patrick’s phenomenal vocals and the band’s capacity to write such moving lyrics like ‘and in the end, if I don’t make it on the list, would you sneak me a wristband?’
The album ends with ‘Sunshine Riptide’ and ‘Bishops Knife Trick’, the former featuring Burna Boy and being yet another step outside of the box for Fall Out Boy. ‘Bishops Knife Trick’ could belong on the Life is Strange soundtrack and has a feeling of innocent closure to it that is just perfect to close Mania.
In a world slowly descending into chaos, Fall Out Boy have created a collection of songs to help us cope with the madness. Mania is bursting with beautiful lyrics, bountiful beats, gripping hooks, rocking guitar riffs and soulful vocals that deserve a place in your music collection.
Tour dates: https://falloutboy.com/tour
Review by Skye W. Winwood