"M A N I A" is the seventh studio album to be released by this Alternative Pop Punk outfit from Illinois, United States. It's very clear that on this release, the four piece were wanting to make a dramatic departure from their earlier material in terms of musical direction. There's everything here from EDM (Electronic Dance Music), Ska/Reggae, Hip-hop, Electro-pop and Trap music. Whilst for the most part this album is very bold and ambitious in its intentions, there are also moments where it sounds like a chaotic mess and feels very inconsistent.
The band selected quite a number of different producers for this record including Jesse Shatkin, D. Sardy, Butch Walker, Illangelo, Andrew Wells and Fall Out Boy themselves. "MANIA" was intended for a September 2017 release but got delayed several months as "The album just really isn't ready, and it felt very rushed," Quote from Patrick Stump, Wikipedia page). Overall, this album is very much a mixed bag but certainly has some quality tracks on it.
Here is my track-by-track review of "MANIA"
1. 'Stay Frosty Royal Milk Tea' - This track begins with some overpowering electronic drum beats but unfortunately the first of many awkward lyrics threatens to ruin it entirely "Are you smelling that shit" Repeated 8 times, Not the best way to open the album.
2. 'The Last of The Real Ones' - By contrast, this track is much stronger both lyrically and musically with some groovy rhythmic keyboards and a rollicking guitar riff throughout. Vocalist Patrick Stump delivers some of the best lyrics of the album here "I wonder if your therapist knows everything about me". The song itself is about finding a genuine person to fall in love with.
3. 'Hold Me Tight or Don't' - Here is the first taste of how experimental FOB have pushed themselves on this record with a catchy tropical ska beat throughout the track. Sadly the same can't be said for the lyrics which veer into WTF? territory (I want to sleep on every piece of fuzz and stuffing that comes out of you", Unless of course he is referring to a Teddy Bear. But if you can get past that, it's a great track.
4. 'Wilson (Expensive Mistakes)' - This track is probably the closest you're going to get to a "traditional" Fall Out Boy track. It's also got one of the best one-liners on the whole album as well "I'll stop wearing black when they make a darker colour". Musically, it just trudges along until it hits a catchy sing-a-long chorus which saves it from complete tedium.
5. 'Church' This is yet another bold and daring track complete with organs, bells and a sampled gospel backing choir which all feel very appropriate. Lyrically, there are metaphors abound particularly during the chorus "If you were church, I'd get on my knees". Definitely not subtle!
6. 'Heaven's Gate' - Similar to the above track however this is where things begin to fall apart structurally with a painfully long held note from Patrick opening the song and some far from subtle references to getting high on drugs "Would you give me a boost over Heaven's gate...You're one habit I just can't kick". Not their best.
7. 'Champion' - Another really strong track both musically and lyrically. The opening seems to be inspired by the "Rocky" theme song and the chorus is very punchy and intense. It's a very inspiring and empowering song hence why I probably like it so much (If I can live through this, I can do anything).
8. 'Sunshine Riptide' - Now we go from the best song on the album to the worst. I have no idea what FOB were thinking. Adding autotune to Patrick's vocals during the verses was a terrible idea as was throwing guest rapper Burna Boy (God knows what the fuck he's rapping about). The only thing that slightly redeems the track is the punchy chorus probably as they remove the autotune from Patrick's vocals.
9. 'Young and Menace' - When I first heard this track, I legitimately had mixed feelings about it as I really wanted to like it. However, the chorus nearly kills the entire vibe of the song with it's screechy, high-pitched vocals and chopped up beats. What's worse is that you have to endure it for near 30 seconds. The verses work much better with a neat reference to Britney Spears "Oops, I did it again, I forgot what I was losing my mind about".
10. 'Bishops Knife Trick' - Thankfully the album finishes on a high note after some really average moments. It starts off really laid-back before it opens up to a soaring, powerful chorus. It also shows off Patrick's range as a vocalist "These are the last blues we're ever gonna have. Let's see how far we get" I just wish the whole album was as consistent as this track is.
OVERALL SCORE: 75/100
Standout Tracks: The Last of the Real Ones, Church, Champion, Bishops Knife Trick.