Review: The Chaotic Sound of ‘Mania’

Fall Out Boy’s music has been evolving since their multi-year hiatus ended in 2013. If you miss the good old days of Fall Out Boy and 2000s pop punk, go listen to “From Under the Cork Tree” because the band’s new album “Mania” has cemented their new sound.

“Mania” is bombastic pop rock with EDM sprinkled on top. This leads to a chaotic sound that is elevated by satisfying energetic rock melodies and Patrick Stump’s charisma.

“Mania” is the follow up to Fall Out Boy’s 2015 album “American Beauty/American Psycho.” It was released Jan. 19. For some reason the album’s track list differs between streaming platforms and the physical release. This means songs may be in a different order depending on where one choses to listen.

At moments, the album’s fusion of rock with EDM elements works well. “Church” is the prime example of this with a church bell and organ mixed expertly into the heavy guitar riffs and Patrick Stump’s yelling. “Bishops Knife Trick” is another example of the album’s musical blend working successfully.

However, songs like “Young and Menace” and “Sunshine Riptide” are unbearable musical bedlam that sabotage the album’s cohesion. Glitch pop mess “Young and Menace” is a strong contender for one of the worst songs that I have ever heard. I have no idea how this song made it through production or who had the bright idea to make it the lead single. “Sunshine Riptide” is an anomaly. The song has the best chorus on “Mania,” but every other element in this tropical, hip-hop infused song is vile.

Outside of those two enormous missteps, the other eight songs on “Mania” are musically solid. The production is wonderful. The bass is heavy, but not exaggerated. Sounds are not lost when “Mania” descends into pandemonium, which happens throughout. Exciting and catchy songs like “The Last of the Real Ones,” “Church” and “HOLD ME TIGHT OR DON’T” are patiently waiting to be dropped into a playlist.

However, there is one issue throughout the album that became more distracting as I listened. The lyrics are passable, but they get repetitive.

Ultimately, repetitive lyrics are a much bigger problem throughout “Mania” than the musical blend not working. Many songs, even the good ones, devolve into Stump repeating the same line over and over. “Champion” is one of the respectable songs on Mania, but I was begging for Stump to sing something other than the line, “If I can live through this.” Literally anything. Stump could have insulted my family. He could have threatened me. Anything to break up the monotony. Just sing something else. This repetition nearly sucks the vigor from “Mania,” but there is enough energy in the music to just barely compensate.

Lyrical repetition, combined with a couple of abhorrent songs, prevents “Mania” from being a classic. The reviews for “Mania” have been mixed. Metacritic’s aggregate score for “Mania” is 60/100 based on 10 reviews. I think critics have been a little harsh on “Mania.” It is not perfect, but the album is still solid for what it is. Patrick Stump is still good. The production is great. There is enough good music here to justify a recommendation.

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