But this one is different, it's not nearly as bad as people say but it is not very good, easily their worst album and an example of what happens when you try to appeal to the wrong demographic too late in your career, Fall Out Boy aren't getting more hits, AB/AP came at the perfect time and was simple and catchy enough to work as a summer album, that's why it was so popular, Save Rock N Roll was the big comeback record in which FOB would show everyone that they aren't done yet! Well for most people it was a painfully boring pop album but at least to them that's what the album was supposed to be. Those had reasons to become hits but MANIA was dead on arrival before the album was even announced, AB/AP gave off a "what now" feeling which is the worst feeling you can give with an album because, seriously, what now? AB/AP gave off that feeling in the worst way because there's no way you could follow that album up while being in the same genre and expect any mainstream success...and yet they did, well I'll give it to MANIA the feeling of "what now" is still present but at least now we know what they can do to get on the right path...
STOP. TRYING. TO. MAKE. ELECTRONIC. OVERPRODUCED. OVERBLOWN. POP.
It's that simple, you've had your fun FOB and so did I cuz I like the 2 previous albums but by the time MANIA came it was way, waaay, WAAAAAY, too much. But fine the album is a desperate attempt at getting more hits when they should have known that would have been almost impossible and just stick to doing whatever the fuck they wanted, but is it a good...that?
Well no obviously and also yes? As I've said at the start of the review, the album has its fun moments, the aggressive tone of Stay Frosty Royal Milk Tea is def post hiatus FOB at their most fun especially with the stupid lyrics and that stupid french accent, The Last of the Real Ones is one of those basic bland pop songs that is too catchy to really be awful (and I'll give it this, it's a pretty damn...average basic bland pop song) but not interesting or original enough to really stick with you so it goes into one ear and out the other most of the time, Hold Me Tight Or Don't has my favorite chorus on the record (that N-N-N-N-N-N-N-N thing is way too infectious) but otherwise doesn't have ANYTHING going for it especially with the boring uninspired lyrics and often times awkward delivery.
Wilson has the best lyrics on the record and feels like a moment of clarity for the band in which they actually knew what they wanted and attempted to achieve this with good results. Same goes for Church which although way too repetitive, makes for a pretty cool sounding pop-rock song with a gospel vibe, Heaven's Gate is the type of old school passionate rock ballad that works well enough on its own but is put down by the production that makes things sound too clean in the chorus and throughout the song and album the guitars sound way too clean and compressed, they don't have the distortion and power to really give the songs some fucking power and it ends up sounding lame.
Champion is this Imagine Dragons wannabe rock self empowerment I CAN DO ANYTHING BITCH song that nobody really wants nor needs nor deserves but exists for that one guy that just wants a loud chorus in the background. Easily the most repetitive song on the album and it's repetitive to a fucking fault, one of my least fav songs here, it's awful, seriously the bass sounds like ass, the drums sound way too digital to really give it some much needed punch, the chorus sounds awkward and weak, its a terrible Imagine Dragons wannabe song, 2000S BANDS OUT OF IDEAS, PLEASE STOP RIPPING OFF IMAGINE DRAGONS, IT NEVER WORKS, NEVER WORKED BEFORE AND NEVER WILL, PLEASE JUST STOOOOOOP.
And well, after that the album just gets worse and man does it get worse with Sunshine Riptide which is this wannabe tropical rap autotuned thing that...man what the fuck is this song? Can I pretend it didn't happen? Like ik saying a song is a 1/10 usually just means "its not liked by people and i dont like it either so i gotta be the one to dislike it the most!" but this is genuinely a 1/10 song, its so fucking awful I don't even need to explain it to you, listen to it and try to convince me it's not an atrocious song? Yeah good fucking luck.
Does the album get better after that though?
Well with Bishops Knife Trick it doe...ah...well I guess I gotta talk about it do I? You know what song it is...
Well here it goes...Young and Menace is not the worst song ever made and I like some aspects of it, hear me out here, the song in theory could work, the song builds up this eerie atmosphere with the distorted high pitched vocals in the background at the start, the drum kick gives it some power and helps push the song forward, the weird little pre chorus thing sets up the chorus perfectly as things get stranger and stranger aaaaaaand then it explodes into a billion dubstep edm breakdowns and its unlistenable...After that point the song just goes from that perfect build up of the verses into the awful chorus that goes on for way too long and idk how I feel about it.
If I could give the song A LOT more credit than it deserves, I'd say the song is supposed to represent someone having an anxiety attack or like someone with huge anger issues, y'know with the whole "I forgot what I was losing my mind about" and "And there's a madness that's just coursing right through me" parts and shit, having the chorus be the part where he goes off n shit, it represents this super chaotic feeling well enough as it is but the issue is that it just doesn't sound good.
I bet in a different world the song would have traded this ear rape-y chorus for some metal breakdown mixed in with only a few electronics to make it more chaotic but also make it more listenable with the guitars giving it some much needed organic feeling that it lacks so so so so so much, and Pete Wentz post hardcore screams having a back and forth with Patrick's clean vocals would could have sounded cool in this concept, or maybe super cringey but who knows, would it still have been a mess? Yes, but at least it could have been a mess intentionally and might have worked somehow.
Bishops Knife Trick has some decent lyrics, a great hook and hits that point in which its fun enough for me to look past the production of it even if I don't have much to say about it.
MANIA is one of those albums that's more flawed than your usual "lets be electropop!" album coming from a rock act which says A LOT, FOB don't have a direction and are constantly going from having good ideas but having the songs feeling a bit misguided and having terrible to no ideas and going nowhere with them on this album, there's enough good moments for me to enjoy like half of it but not enough to say it's some underrated gem that deserves more respect or whatever.
They tried, and failed, very miserably failed, very very very miserably failed, to be something they can't be. Guys like you don't have to go back to pop punk or pop-rock but anything but this could work y'know.
This is a mess, sometimes fun sometimes not, the best songs are above average by post hiatus FOB standards and the awful songs are especially awful and awful by any standard you could possibly have, and the mid songs are just there, a good idea here and there, a good hook here and there, might be fun in certain areas but not enough to really be memorable or worth coming back too.
In other words...its like mediocre
Fav Tracks: Stay Frosty Royal Milk Tea, Church, Bishops Knife Trick and Wilson (Expensive Mistakes)