Overall Score: 7/10 Lyrics: 7/10 replayability: 7/10 Bold new direction: 8/10 Pros: big summer tunes Cons: strangled a bit by production
In the early 00’s Fall Out Boy were the kings of a scene. Delivering a string of now-classic pop-punk and emo albums that showed off their clever wordplay and penchant for a gorgeous melody, for a moment in time they were untouchable. Since returning after a hiatus in 2013 there has been a lot made of the band’s output with many praising comeback album ‘Save Rock & Roll’, while many were soured on its follow up ‘American Psycho/American Beauty’ feeling like the band had become a parody of themselves.
When Fall Out Boy dropped a surprise trailer into cinemas in America last April announcing that Mania was coming many were excited but cautious, after all, where would the band go now? Would they continue going further down the pop route or would they go back to their more punk based roots? I can honestly say that nobody was or is expecting what this album has turned out to be.
Mania aka The Purple LLama Pop Album is Fall Out Boy at their most absurd, loud and unashamedly pop. The album opens with a pounding beat thumping its way towards you before Patrick Stump releases a strong confident vocal claiming he is about ‘To go Tonya Harding on the whole world’s Knee’. It is like he is challenging the listener to not like it, but showing that he really doesn’t care anyway. It’s a bold way to open the album and bring people into the sound of Mania.
The next three tracks Last of the Real Ones, Hold Me Tight or Don’t and Wilson (expensive mistakes) have all been released as pre-release singles. I will admit to not being very keen on any of them when I heard them all individually, but here collected together in the context of the album they all work really well. Last of the Real Ones sounds absolutely massive and is probably the best of the three. Hold me tight or don’t relies a little too heavy on the production to work and is a little bit too busy, with whistling, finger clicks and horrible drum programming making a track that is a little muddled in its aims. Wilson (expensive mistakes) is a more simple, stripped-down track that is a tongue in cheek pop gem that seems at least lyrically like it’s trying to tie its way back to the Fall Out Boy of old.
Heaven’s Gate is another huge track at the centre of the album an is very reminiscent of Prince, not vocally but at least instrumentally it sounds like the type of song he was writing in the later part of his career with a gospel, blues feel to it. It is also the first track on the track that sounds like it was actually written and recorded by a whole band using real instruments which is a refreshing change that comes quite late into the album.
Champion, the much-touted collaboration with Sia sounds exactly how you would expect it to sound and is a new era Fall Out Boy anthem, which is destined to become a huge live hit. It’s a very uplifting song that builds and builds to the chorus that gives the listener to pay off. It also features a marching beat in the background that gives a sense of working towards something that fits in well with feel of overcoming adversity, it’s sure to become a staple of many an inspirational playlist.
We should probably talk about the album’s first single You and a Menace. The vitriol that hit the web when this song was released was astounding, admittedly it came out of left field with its warped vocals and huge beat drops, but I like the fact that it was something totally different and blew the cobwebs away for people. It may not have been to everyone’s tastes but I think it was bold of them to put out something so radically different and it completely fits the vibe and the mood presented on the rest of the album.
Mania is an album that will continue to be polarising, chances are if you weren’t a fan of the direction Fall Out Boy went on their last album then chances are you won’t want to glance over this, but if you approach it with an open mind then you may find a few gems on here. It’s not a perfect album and it does suffer from over production and the feeling that it was all written and recorded on computers with no real sense of an actual band to be found here, which cant leave a few of the songs lacking any real identity, but as a big loud hook drenched summer pop album it works incredibly well and may surprise you.
Mania is out now on Island Records.