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Fall Out Boy - Mania (Album Review)

Thursday, 25 January 2018 Written by Liam Turner

Fall Out Boy have been hanging on to their pop-punk label by their fingernails since they emerged from hiatus in 2013. ‘Mania’ now sees the quartet loosen their grasp entirely, and fall hard because of it.

Without doubt, this seventh record is the most pop they have ever sounded. Their once loud, brash guitars had already been subdued on ‘Save Rock and Roll’ and ‘American Psycho/American Beauty’, but it’s almost like they’ve completely forgotten what a power chord is here. Not to mention the fact that the whole record sounds like it’s been coated in 20 layers of polyurethane.

Of course, indulging pop mores doesn’t mean a record is an automatic write-off, and there are countless instances throughout music history of bands successfully jettisoning a rock sound for something a bit more mainstream. So, why hasn’t it paid off on ‘Mania’?

Well, the issue is that Fall Out Boy can't seem to decide what kind of pop band they want to be.

Are they looking to go down the EDM route, as opener Young and Menace would have you believe? Or do they have their ears tuned to a dancehall sound, as espoused on Hold Me Tight or Don’t and Sunshine Riptide? It’s really hard to say, and the record takes a big hit because of it.

If there’s one saving grace here, though, it’s Patrick Stump’s vocals. A perennial strong point for the band, they’ve always had the ability to lift up a sub-par track to one that’s half-decent, and ‘Mania’ is no exception. On Heaven’s Gate (very much the chief oddball among an array of oddball tunes), Stump delivers an impassioned performance that truly makes use of his natural soulfuness. It’s just a shame that the song itself sounds like an X-Factor staple crossed with a Beyoncé b-side.

Chief lyricist Pete Wentz also does his best to mask the record’s shortcomings, even if his words can be a tad saccharine: “I wanna sleep on every piece of fuzz and stuffing that comes out of you.” But, like Stump’s vocals, Wentz’s lyrical efforts only add short bursts of complementary colours to a mishmash of abstract splatter.

Fall Out Boy have always been a little more pop than punk. ‘Mania' just proves that the further the band venture out from the nest, the less certain they are about where to go.

Fall Out Boy Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Tue March 27 2018 - BIRMINGHAM Arena Birmingham
Wed March 28 2018 - CARDIFF Motorpoint Arena Cardiff
Thu March 29 2018 - MANCHESTER Arena
Sat March 31 2018 - LONDON O2

Click here to compare & buy Fall Out Boy Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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