Release Date: Jan 19, 2018
Record label: Island
The old Fall Out Boy can't come to the phone right now. Why? Oh, because they're dead. After speculation, rumours, re-recordings and everything in between, Fall Out Boy's seventh full-length is finally ready. The band have thrown out some curveballs already, but really, you haven't heard anything yet... Where they tripped up on 2015's patchy 'American Beauty/ American Psycho', they thoroughly excel on 'M A N I A'.
Fall Out Boy's seventh LP comes with a tense back story that befits their emo roots: The band scrapped Mania last year at the last minute and built it again from scratch. But the album is less a reboot than a re-affirmation of their ability to fuse over-the-top oversharing and Queen-ly operatic stomp with an elastic vision of pop – swerving from EDM grind ("Young and Menace") to bubblegum trap swing ("Hold Me Tight or Don't") to Police-style reggae glide ("Sunshine Riptide"), referencing drama queens from Tonya Harding to Britney Spears and kicking lyrics like "I'll stop making black when they make a darker color. " As always, the ADD sound works best when it's glossy and streamlined; "Champions" might be a wan echo of their hit anthem "Centuries.
Over the past 17 years, beloved Chicagoans Fall Out Boy have released six massive albums, played hundreds of stadium shows, headlined dozens of festivals and even found the time for a two-year hiatus (2010-12). Where do a band who’ve done everything go next? EDM, obviously. Their bonkers seventh record ‘Mania’ is worlds away from the smart pop-punk of 2003 debut ‘Take This To Your Grave’ or the rousing emo of 2005’s ‘From Under The Cork Tree’. “We’re a band that has made no secret of experimenting and changing,” singer Patrick Stump told NME recently, and here that’s what they do.
Only by scrutinising the context into which Fall Out Boy re-emerged from their hiatus can we begin to comprehend M A N I A’s existence. The Chicago foursome had been eager to ditch the emo tag since ‘Dance, Dance’ gained traction in 2006, and 2013 provided the opportune moment: EDM had swallowed the Billboard charts whole, and many of pop-rock’s twenty-first century goliaths had conceded defeat. The likes of Coldplay, Maroon 5, and The Killers had eagerly dropped their genre’s suffix, opted for fuchsia artwork, and realigned themselves with the winning team. Patrick, Pete & co.
Fall Out Boy have always been more interested in being popular than cool, and the longer they stick around, the better that philosophy functions as a survival mechanism. Fifteen years since the Illinois emo quartet’s debut album, and a few years into their comeback as one of the most famous rock bands in the world, the Fall Out Boy of 2018 are, for better or worse, essentially Aerosmith in the late ’80s. “All my childhood heroes have fallen off or died,” frontman Patrick Stump sings at one point on Fall Out Boy’s seventh album M A N I A, no doubt aware that for a few kids out there, he’s one of the heroes that fell off too.
Honesty may be the best policy, but one has to question whether bassist Pete Wentz could have sugarcoated things a little more last month when he explained Fall Out Boy pushing back the release of their new album "M A N I A" by telling Entertainment Weekly many of the songs were "just not good enough. " Such candor may be commendable on its face, but it's hardly the way to build public confidence in a record, particularly given that the four-month delay — from early September to the third week of January — meant Fall Out Boy were retooling the disc's 10 tracks while carrying out an arena tour across North America ostensibly in support of it. The setlists reflected this conflict, the band only drawing on five or fewer of the previously released singles off "M A N I A"; the dates felt more like career retrospectives than avenues to highlight new material.