Review Summary: Folie à Don’t
If there’s any way to describe Fall Out Boy in the last 5 years, it’s complacent.
Following the hiatus and subsequent return of the pop-punk-turned-pop outfit in 2013, Fall Out Boy have been making their music as generic, accessible, and palatable for radio play as possible. Both of their last records showed the band playing it as safely as you’d imagine--cleansing themselves of any sound that may have been deemed as too out of the norm or progressive.
That’s why it came as a surprise, to many, that ‘Young & Menace,’ the first song released off of their 7th studio album MANIA
, was so garishly strange. It seemed like a sign of things to come--as even the album title, MANIA
, suggested something that was more crazed and, well, as manic as possible. MANIA
is a record that shows Fall Out Boy wanting to break traditional convention and experiment with new concepts and sounds. But after being out of practice for so many years do they manage to pull it off well?
No. No, they do not.
To put it succinctly, MANIA
’s biggest crime is that it spreads itself thin with too many ideas that are lazily explored or just poorly executed. Fall Out Boy barely stick with one theme for more than 3 minutes here and every time they touch on a new sound, it’s about as cliched and generic as you’d expect. ‘Heaven’s Gate’ feels like it was ripped straight out of any top 40s piano ballad from the 90s. ‘Sunshine Riptide’ sounds as good as you’d expect a white, pop-punk band’s attempt at making a Reggae song to be. Even ‘HOLD ME TIGHT OR DON’T’ tries to add a latin flare to the band’s sound that manages to be as off putting as possible.
Young & Menace is a track that somehow manages to feel out of place on an album where every song feels out of place--and it’s also a solid representation of MANIA
as a whole. It’s a culmination of a number of musical cliches that are thrown together into a song and blended in the most obnoxious way possible. The hook here is so processed and layered with effects and pitch shifts that it sounds like a chipmunk being ragdolled in an accordion--and everything is mixed so poorly that each instrument distracts from another.
If the supposed MANIA
that Fall Out Boy wanted to convey here was a mix of confusion and uncomfortability in the listener, they have succeeded. The main culprit in this has to be the number of cringe inducing adlibs and lyrics that are sprinkled throughout the entirety of MANIA
. Moments like the pretentious use of french in ‘Stay Frosty Royal Milk Tea’ or the desk receptionist adlib thrown in the middle of ‘Church’ add that little bit of spice that makes you want to grit your teeth in embarrassment.
On top of that, MANIA
is filled with a myriad of amazing lyrical pleasures that are sure to set the bar for what is perceived as quality art. With lines such as; “I’m about to go Tonya Harding on the whole world’s knee,” “The sign says don't tap the glass, but I read it in reverse, ssalg eht pat t'nod syas ngis ehT” or the ever so touching and poignant “If I can live through this, I can do anything.”
The simplest way to describe MANIA
is a jumbled and sonically incoherent mess of a record. Rather than taking any time to flesh out certain sounds or push any concept they may have had to its full potential, Fall Out Boy seem more content with mashing several unfitting cliches together into an album that ultimately lacks satisfaction and direction.