Fall Out Boy's 'MANIA' Is All Over The Place But That's Precisely Why It Works

18 January 2018, 13:20

Fall Out Boy
Fall Out Boy. Picture: Island, DCD2

By James Wilson-Taylor

The seventh record from the FOB boys is a far cry away from their early emo days, but the level of variety on show is something to be admired.

Fall Out Boy - MANIA (Released 19/01/18)

MANIA
MANIA. Picture: Island, DCD2

It may still be 2005 in our hearts but, for the gentlemen of Fall Out Boy, those early emo days are long gone. Much like the more recent work of their contemporaries Paramore (1980s dance pop) and Panic! At The Disco (synthed-up Sinatra), FOB have moved on to pastures new, experimenting with more contemporary musical styles that are about as far away from 'Grand Theft Autumn' or From Under The Cork Tree as you are likely to get.

This seventh record arrives after being famously delayed last year, allowing Patrick, Pete, Joe and Andy time to re-enter the studio and create a new set of tracks they deemed more palatable. An admirable and brave move, it clearly demonstrated that this band still care deeply about producing something worthwhile when, at this point, they could easily just rest on their laurels and enjoy the touring money.

So, did the gamble pay off? Well, as you can probably already sense from the five (!) singles released to date, this is a varied, cross-genre affair that shoots for the sky at every turn. Will every track please every fan? Of course not. But that's what makes it such a pleasure to listen to.

From the polarizing electronic squelches of 'Young & Menace' to the roaring stadium sounds of 'Champion', the dark gospel of 'Church' and the sweet doowop of 'Heaven's Gate', MANIA allows FOB to stretch their musical tentacles into previously unchartered territories. Oddly, this constant switching of tone is what gives the album its cohesion, taking the same approach a listener might in making a mixtape or playlist of their fave songs - they flow together well but can certainly hold their own when required.

Patrick's vocals are more vital than ever, particularly on the epic, semi-improvised outro to 'Champion', while Pete's lyrics are as neurotic and witty as ever (the Tonya Harding reference in 'Stay Frosty Royal Milk Tea' is a particular highlight). Joe and Andy meanwhile bring musical backing that is equal parts heavy ('Church', 'Young & Menace') and sweetly simple ('Heaven's Gate', 'Hold Me Tight or Don't').

Those who miss the "old" Fall Out Boy may leave disappointed that there is nothing in the vein of 'Saturday' to be found on MANIA. But, for the rest of us, this is the sound of a band pushing themselves harder than ever before and having great fun while they do it. Long may they continue.

RATING - 8/10