ALBUM REVIEW: Fall Out Boy – ‘MANIA’

After a slight delay, Fall Out Boy’s seventh studio album, MANIA, released January 19th.  The band continues its transition from pop punk into full on pop territory, fully equipped with over produced anthems with epic choruses washed in electronic fervor.

Following 2015’s American Beauty/American Psycho and a full album of remixes of the same tracks entitled ‘Make America Psycho Again’, Fall Out Boy continue to blend their pop punk aesthetic and anxious yet confident lyrics with heavy booming electronics that is so very loved by American culture.  ‘American Beauty/ American Psycho’ was filled to the brim with pop culture references, some cryptic and open to interpretation, and others more blatant such as the tracks “Uma Thurman” and “Fourth of July”.  Even the title of the album itself gives reference to two great American works; The Grateful Dead’s 1970 album ‘American Beauty’ and Bret Easton Ellis’s book ‘American Psycho’.  Although fitting for a band to return from a hiatus to reinvent themselves, some of the longtime, “hardcore” fans of the band may be left out with the new direction of the band’s sound that accelerates full force on ‘MANIA’.

As soon as MAINIA begins, it’s instantly recognizable that the band is starting where they left off on the American Beauty/Psycho record, noting the American pop culture references to Nikki Sixx of Motley Crue fame within one minute of the album start, not to mention the reiterated phrase, “Oops I did it again” on the same track.  Halfway through that first track, “Young and Menace”, the evolution of the band’s sound is evident, the listener almost has to double check that this album itself isn’t remixes from an overlooked predecessor.  The following track, “Champion” is reminiscent of “Immortals” and “Centuries”, in that its confident and self indulgent, not in a way of over compensation, but in a way that seems like it was necessary for survival.

MANIA continues on full of energy and high production value, bass sequencing and various synthesized sounds almost take away from the lyrical content that is full of self reflection and soliloquy, almost as if the speaker is the same person song to song.  Plenty of “whoa oh oh” anthems fill the middle of the record with tracks like “Wilson” and “Church”.  Then an unexpected turn to a ballad with deep piano chords that leaves much more space for the listener to focus on the vocals and lyrics, “Heaven’s Gate” is not unlike Kings of Leon’s style pop rock style.  As soon as it ended, the pure pop sound comes right back with the next song “Sunshine Riptide” featuring Burna Boy, the only guest appearance on the album, and a song could easily become a 2018 summer anthem for obvious reasons.  The final song “Bishop’s Knife Trick” is more akin to “Heavens Gate” with a little more soul vocally, but keeping up with the epic choruses found on the other tracks.

MANIA may find some diehard fans abandoning Fall Out Boy, but the new direction is comfortable for the band who are obviously keeping an eye on the culture of their home country.  The barrage of American culture on American Beauty/Psycho and its subsequent remixes was thought provoking as American citizens find themselves pushed to the brim before pouring out to the streets in protest of the oncoming presidential campaign and MANIA is quite fitting for current state our country is in.