FALL OUT BOY Mania gets 5/10

Fall Out Boy
Mania
Island Records/Decaydance (DCD2) 

5/10

Anyone who went through their teens/ 20s in the early 2000’s will probably recognise pop punk outfit, Fall Out Boy. You may have since lost touch and not even realised they were still producing music, but they have been and January 19 marked the release of studio album seven, Mania.

Mania opens with EDM drenched Young and Menace, an unexpected far cry from their earlier punk rock sound. Soft vocals and instrumentals slowly guide you in before the pace picks up and you’re thrown into electronic chaos. As an opener, it quickly sets a presumed tone and style for the rest of the album, potentially fueling hesitation to listening on through fear of EDM dominance, but that’s not the case so don’t be put off, just yet.

Kick on and you’ll find lots of variety. If it’s enough, or too much, will be different for everyone. What follows is a mismatch of songs that are individually pretty good, but in sequence, don’t work together. From Young and Menace, you’re taken straight into the heavier Champion and Stay Frosty Royal Milk Tea, reminiscent of earlier works, nice heavy basslines and catchy guitar riffs, an almost industrial feel in the latter.

Another directional change and your dumped on the doorstep of numerous pop-heavy songs. From HOLD ME TIGHT OR DON’T, with its electronic, Caribbean-calypso style that sounds more like a Maroon 5 track, through to the enlightening, choir-featuring Church, or the fresh sounding, reggae infused, Sunshine Riptide feat. Nigerian reggae-dancehall singer Burna Boy, they’re all different but all pop.

Another glimpse of early FOB comes with The Last Of The Real Ones, a fast, glitzy track that’s easy to get into the beat of, though quickly lost with much mellower Wilson (Expensive Mistakes) following. The latter has a cool intro that sounds like M.I.A.’s Paper Planes but ends up being smothered away.

They’re all fine songs with neat catchy sounds, but that abrupt shifting between styles creates some uneasy listening, leaving the listener a little confused as to what FOB are trying to do with Mania. Ending on a bit of a low, slow and mellow closer, Bishops Knife Trick, again feels like a Maroon 5 track, and quite uneventful for a FOB song.

It’s hard to figure out what FOB’s path is with Mania, or if they’re lost in a maze of styles. At times it feels like someone hit shuffle on a poorly stocked iPod.

The sound and style vary too much, which distorts the flow, feeling more like a compilation. Individually, some songs have memorable elements and instrumentals throughout were great, but as a whole, it doesn’t fit together. It makes it difficult to get into the groove set by a single song, as it is quickly lost in the abrupt change to the next and the lack of flow connecting them.

Hard to listen to in one go, there’s definitely something in there for fans old and new, though old school fans will probably be left a little disappointed. Everyone’s taste in music is different and it’s easy to see where Mania will be appealing to some more than others.

RYAN ELLIS

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