I’m fairly certain no one reading this needs me to explain to them who Fall Out Boy are. A lot of us happened to grow up during the time when they were blowing up, and witnessed their “good old days”. For better or for worse, all the lyrics to Sugar, We’re Goin’ Down and Dance, Dance are pretty much programmed into our brains at this point. And whether any of us like it or not, these guys always seem to come back to haunt us.
Not that Fall Out Boy is all bad. Listen, I went through a phase too, I understand. Had you asked me in the earlier years of high school, I would’ve told you Infinity on High and Folie a Deux were decent projects. And I feel like yes, projects like this are decent… if you hate being excited by music and think the most surface-level display of emotion is something profound and worth noting. While I was never a fan of the material they came back with in 2013 with Save Rock and Roll and American Beauty/American Psycho, looking back, god, they’re such great, consistent examples of everything that can go wrong in a single album. And when Young and Menace came out… dear lord. The one good thing about this song is that for the past year, every time my friends have gotten started talking about terrible music, with mentions of Coldplay’s new material, or Imagine Dragons or The Chainsmokers or something, I’d whip it out and nobody could really top it with anything.
Honestly, is Fall Out Boy even trying anymore? At this point they know anything they put out is going to sell, which partly explains why this mess of an album was released. Their old stuff wasn’t even good and this project still manages to be an insult to it. This album feels so out of place in their discography and music in general, really. It’s bad in a new, improved, unique way, with more heavily synthetic electropop. There might be tiny hints of their original roots in pop rock, but it’s all so overpowered by layers upon layers of horrible filters. This sound feels so forced and awkward for Fall Out Boy, and its terrible execution pretty much shows it’s not something that comes naturally to them. It takes overproduced to the next level; there’s no song here whatsoever that I can say has genuine substance to it. The whole thing is unbelievably generic and honestly a chore to listen to. Its only redeeming quality is that it’s terrible to the point of being hilarious; and only 30 minutes, so that’s a plus.
Nearly every song here has a million things going on at once and I never know what I should be focusing on; like the pianos, filtered guitars, exceptionally terrible/overdone vocals and crashing synthetic chorus on The Last of the Real Ones, or the overdramatic balladlike structure and fake deep lyrics on Young and Menace that climaxes into this chopped dubsteppy chorus with squeaky vocal samples (and it’s impossible to listen to without laughing, I swear to god). On nearly every single track, Pete Wentz sounds like he’s either screeching or growling or a mix of both.
Other standout bad moments include the overdramatic choirs worked into the melody of Church, the super cheesy whistles, snaps, and reggae twist to Hold Me Tight or Don’t (don’t forget the trademark “nanananananana”), and overly autotuned vocal leads on Sunshine Riptide. Can’t forget that after the lyric “but I read it in reverse”, they reverse that part of the song...genius. God. Fall Out Boy is on some other level shit. Honestly, the feature on Sunshine Riptide is good too; don’t get me wrong, it’s totally out of place and honestly I have no idea who Burna Boy even is (I looked it up and he’s a Nigerian reggae singer), but it’s a cool break from the rest of the song, ya know? I just wish we heard more from this guy because anything that distracts me from the rest of the album is a great move in my book.
Lyrically, a decent chunk of this project sounds like it was written by a kid going through their emo phase, but like, not even what I get called emo for (y’all need to chill sometimes), think more 14-year old tumblr user superwholock fan-esque type stuff. If this sounds like an exaggeration or you need proof, “I’ll stop wearing black when they invent a darker color” is an actual lyric on Wilson (Expensive Mistakes). In certain places there’s more of a romantic twist; don’t miss the cliche-infested Heaven’s Gate. ““You’re out of this world”, “you’re the one habit i just can’t kick”, “I’m a missile that’s guided to you” is some quality writing if I’ve ever seen it. And sure, in certain areas the lyrics could be worse; the problem is that everything else going on is so blatantly bad that mediocre but acceptable lyrics aren’t going to stand out.
I see no reason to ever listen to this again, honestly. It’s so disappointing to me when groups do this; and recently so many artists with nostalgic value seem to be going in a full-on commercial pop direction. Add Fall Out Boy to that list. I feel like the least they could do is have a catchy tune or two on here. The closest we get is Young and Menace; honestly, though, if nothing else can be said for Mania, at least I can continue to force people to listen to it when I need an example as as bad as things can get. I guess you could say that’s success on some level.