Fall Out Boy’s recently-released, seventh studio album, Mania, signals a complete shift from pop-punk to a heavily-synthesized pop. After scrapping what was supposed to be released this past fall, the band rewrote much of the anticipated album.
Five singles preceded the release of Fall Out Boy’s Mania, meaning half of the album was available for listening before the official release.
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“Young and Menace,” is an overproduced track featuring an iconic “Oops I did it again” lyric and an exaggerated chorus that together may indicate an intentional subversion of current pop music. On one hand, it could be brilliant artistry, but it is also hard to listen to at some points.
The band’s shift towards pop reveals itself in “The Last of the Real Ones,” even in lyrics of infatuation and desperation — reflective of every other love song played on pop radio.
“Hold Me Tight or Don’t” leans toward the uncreative energy of “Champion” and leaves an untapped potential for vengefulness. The song feels like a rollercoaster stalled at the top of the first big drop as it remains passive in its account of uncertain love.
The shining exception, and perhaps the strongest song in the album, is “Wilson (Expensive Mistakes).” This Cast Away reference feels more like a Fall Out Boy song than any of the others — a familiar combination of angst, intensity, nihilism and lyrics that hardly have anything to do with each other.
The last three songs on the album fail to redeem or close the album on a strong note. “Heaven’s Gate” continues the religious metaphors from “Church,” but Patrick Stump, bless his soul, is not Alicia Keys.
“Sunshine Riptide” features Burna Boy, but the soaring chorus isn’t particularly moving. The last track, “Bishops Knife Trick,” speaks of nostalgia and regret, but, the emotion, again, never reaches the near-overwhelming levels of previous Fall Out Boy music.
For better or worse, Fall Out Boy has changed a great deal throughout the course of its existence. Some might argue that, in the transition to pop, the band has lost some degree of authenticity.
While listening, I found myself accepting the mediocrity of one song and hoping the next one would be better, only to be let down again. It was hard for my inner-emo teen to accept this defeat.
It is unclear if Fall Out Boy will ever be able to recreate their early success, and as the band continues to push the boundaries of pop-punk, we may be stuck with albums like Mania.