Mania is an album that is trying to be too many things. You can almost hear the struggle between the band and their music in every song, as they try to retain some semblance of authenticity while also producing music that sells. A prime example is ‘Wilson (Expensive Mistakes)’ which sounds so breezy and upbeat it could feature in a T.V commercial. In contrast with this tune are the quintessential FOB brand of emo-punk lyrics – ‘I’ll stop wearing black/ when they make a darker colour’.
The album was somewhat doomed from the beginning, with the band scrapping their first draft in July and pushing the release from September to January so they could rewrite the whole thing. As well as that, the first two singles, ‘Young and Menace’ and ‘Champion’ failed to even chart in the Billboard Top 100 back in the summer. These are two of the songs that survived the rewrite, but frankly they should have been scrapped as well.
Half of the album consists of EDM infused synth-pop, while the other half returns to FOB’s usual punk-rock sound, although they somewhat miss the mark. Pete Wentz provides his trademark outlandish lyrics across the board, which explore the anxiety he has continued to struggle with over the years. The message he is trying to send doesn’t really ever ring clear due to intense over-production. Patrick Stump’s vocals are back and as strong as ever, and his unique sounds are what makes it a FOB album. Individually, most of the songs are respectable, not something to scream about, but also not terrible. However, the album as a whole is incoherent, a loud cacophony of screaming and instruments that fail to pull together at any point.
Fall Out Boy have divided opinions for the past decade, and typically present a mixed bag of an album, leaving it up to the audience to make sense of. Honourable mentions go to ‘Heaven’s Gate’ and ‘Hold Me Tight or Don’t’ which are the finest tracks on the album, but the cheerful R&B vibes are not what you would expect or necessarily want from FOB. All-in-all, there are a few songs that I hope will be released as singles but in general Fall Out Boy’s seventh studio album disappoints.
Caoimhe Mc Parland – Music Writer