The dictionary definition of the word “mania” is an “excessive excitement or enthusiasm; craze.”
On their album of the same name, punk rock tour-de-force Fall Out Boy uses that definition as a diving board, doing a graceful swan dive into a deep pool of adrenaline-fueled punk.
What bassist Pete Wentz described in a Rolling Stone article as “a hard restart that clears the cache and erases the hard drive,” “Mania” indeed thrusts the band forward at warp speed into new territory, while still managing to carry along certain trademarks of their sound that diehard F.O.B. fans will appreciate.
The first track, “Young and Menace,” originally written by the band’s front man Patrick Stump in 2016, opens on a somber, reflective note: “We’ve gone way too fast for way too long / We were never supposed to make it half this far.”
However, this is just about the most calm you will experience during the four-piece punk prodigies’ fast-paced, 35-minute project.
The first drop of the song gives you a taste of Fall Out Boy’s palette-cleanser album – a modernized vision of punk rock music blending raw, complex lyrics, stadium-ready rock hooks and guitar riffs, and mind-melting EDM drops fit for any music festival involving alien balloons and glow sticks.
The moods on the album fluctuate song to song. Several tracks are more upbeat and vocally-led like “Wilson (Expensive Mistakes),” where Stump sings, “I was gonna say somethin’ that would solve all our problems / but then I got drunk and I forgot what I was talkin’ about,” and “Sunshine Riptide,” a pulsing, summery anthem blending the band’s signature punk with a welcome breakdown of Jamaican dancehall music.
Other songs are more melancholic, yet even these reveal silver linings through the lyrics, always supported by meticulous instrumentation. On “Heaven’s Gate,” Stump delivers a powerful vocal performance, pleading for his listeners to “give me a boost over heaven’s gate.”
Stump, the band’s lead singer, is known for his impressive vocal range, and continues to push it to new heights. “Champion,” “Church” and “The Last of the Real Ones,” find the singer exploring different areas of both his vocal capabilities and his emotional expression. From celebration, to reminiscence, to worship, Stump controls his voice with demanding precision and seemingly effortless delivery.
The rest of the band continues to function as a well-oiled machine.
It is easy to see F.O.B. pressing forward into new territory for the next 10 years and onwards, given their well-established legacy in American musical culture, and consistent ability to lead the vanguard – crafting new sounds and continually pushing boundaries.
This album reflects a renewal of the band’s confidence and drive, but also has definite moments of honest contemplation of hanging up the towel, with the band reflecting on all of its past accomplishments.
While personally, I believe Fall Out Boy has already made a permanent mark on music, there is absolutely no reason for them to slow down now, and it appears they don’t intend to.
Listen to this album to remind yourself why you’ve loved Fall Out Boy since 2007 (be honest), and, much like the band’s concept for “Mania,” cleanse the palette of your judgments and open your mind to the next, manic wave of punk rock.
“The Last of the Real Ones” provide another instant classic.