Hi readers! Guest writer Becca here.
I’ve heard people say they don’t like Fall Out Boy’s new music because it’s different, and I have just one thing to say to those people: YOU ARE DEPRIVING YOURSELVES. Sure, it’s different from their old stuff, but their style has evolved. It would be disappointing if it hadn’t. Besides, different =/= bad. M A N I A really has something for everyone.
I do feel the need to preface this review by saying that I am not a music scholar or anything. I am simply a girl who enjoys music. Basically, I know a bop when I hear one. And this album is bop after bop.
I listened to the album in order for the first time at 1:14 AM the evening (morning?) of its release. Of course, I had already heard all the singles, as well as “Wilson (Expensive Mistakes)” when I saw FOB in concert, so I was only truly hearing half of the songs for the first time — but there’s just something about hearing an album in its entirety.
“Young And Menace” is honestly the perfect opening to the album. The fade in is so aurally pleasing, and the opening line, “we’ve gone way too fast for way too long,” is just the perfect beginning. The crescendo gives me a surge of energy every time, even though the bass makes the tempo feel slower than it is. I will play devil’s advocate for a moment and say that I do understand why people don’t like this song. I guess it might be a bit out there for some people. One might even call it weird. But the strangeness of the song draws me to it even more. It is so rare these days that you hear artists doing anything unique, because it seems like everything has already been done. Album after album, FOB continues to prove me wrong. The song comes full circle by fading out on a somewhat discordant note, and it’s just so beautiful and surreal.
“Champion” is the kind of song that athletes listen to before a game to get hyped up. The phrase “if I can live through this, I can do anything,” is the reassuring mantra we all need in our lives. Furthermore, the music does a fantastic job of conveying the sentiment in the words. Patrick’s voice carries a sort of desperation; an emotional intensity that evokes a similar response in the listener. Would that I were a musician, so I could better explain exactly why this song is so good! As things are, I have to leave it at this: THE HYPE SONG WE ALL NEEDED.
“Stay Frosty Royal Milk Tea” might actually be one of my new favorite songs. Not even ten seconds in, I had to stop what I was doing just so I could listen more closely. I have to admit my biases and say that there’s something about the way that Patrick speaks French, but even without that, it is a jam. The guitars are ON IT, the drums make me want to dance (even though I am a terrible dancer) or at the very least, do pilates (this coming from a girl who rarely works out) and I am HERE FOR IT. Below is the actual conversation I had with my sister when I heard it for the first time:
The receipts prove it: We are both obsessed.
“HOLD ME TIGHT OR DON’T” is YET ANOTHER BOP. I feel like it is one of the best examples on the album of just how many musical styles Fall Out Boy can master. Again, I feel like my lack of a grasp on musical terminology is limiting me somewhat in being able to describe just how good it really is. If I had to describe this song in one word, I would probably choose masterful. The beat is top notch, and is probably the thing that draws me to the song most — although I also really like a song that executes an a cappella portion as stunningly as this one did.
“The Last Of The Real Ones” is just pure artistry. The sped-up and slightly warped but still familiar notes from “Champion” in the beginning reflect the brilliance of the artists who created them. I know it seems like I’m really laying it on thick or something, but seriously — you listen to both songs and tell me that it isn’t just a new level of satisfying. The first time I heard the song, the line “I wonder if your therapist knows everything about me” really hit me hard, and every time I listen to it, even if I haven’t been singing, I sing then. I feel like one of those songs that I’m going to describe as a classic in a few years.
As previously stated, the first time I heard “Wilson (Expensive Mistakes)” was actually in concert (okay, that’s a slight lie — I actually heard a version from someone’s live recording from the concert). It was really good in concert, but the online recording didn’t do it justice. I also really like this song because it contains the iconic line, “I’ll stop wearing black when they make a darker color” — if that isn’t on your Fall Out Boy/used-to-be-emo moodboard, I don’t know what is. Also, it contains the phrase, “I became such a strange shape from trying to fit in,” which just…wow. Hit me where it hurts, FOB.
From the very first chord of “Church,” I knew this song was going to give me an actual religious experience, and I was not disappointed. The gospel choir feel was unexpected, but certainly not unwelcome. If there’s one song on the album that I just can’t do justice in words, it’s this one. Like, I know I said SFRMT was my new favorite, which, yes, but also, this SONG. It is just so beautiful in every way. I really can’t say much else about it — you just really need to hear it for yourself; I have no doubt that you’ll understand what I mean if you do.
“Heaven’s Gate” is a song you could play at a wedding or something. I don’t even know. It feels like a song you’d get if you had Ed Sheeran collab with Hozier. It manages to feel modern and old at the same time — giving me the impression that this song is actually timeless. In that case, I hope it gets the recognition it deserves, if not now, then in 20 or 30 years.
“Sunshine Riptide” is yet another song that took me all of 4 seconds to figure out I was head over heels for it. After the “but I read it in reverse” followed by backwards lyrics, I audibly gasped. Sure, if you really analyze it it doesn’t seem that crazy, but it just strikes me as so clever. It also feels like one of those “songs of the summer.” The music itself has sort of an island feel. It genuinely makes me want to go to the beach.
Songs that start slow/soft and then build up are almost always beautiful, IMO. “Bishops Knife Trick” is one of those songs that paints a picture in my mind when I listen to it. I mean, to be fair, most songs do that — but this one is more specific and tailored to the song than is usual for me. Also, I think it’s the perfect song to be last on the album. I mean, not only does it repeat the phrase, “the last, the last, the last [blues]” over and over, but it is a much more mellow song than most on the album, and just seems like the natural ending.
Young And Menace: 8.5/10 llama monster things
Champion: 9/10 trophy cases
Stay Frosty Royal Milk Tea: 10/10 French Patricks
HOLD ME TIGHT OR DON’T: 9.5/10 “na-na-na’s”
The Last Of The Real Ones: 10/10 relatable lyrics
Wilson (Expensive Mistakes): 9/10 emo lyrics
Church: 11/10, can’t even put a joke here, they better win an award for this
Heaven’s Gate: 9.5/10 wedding first dances
Sunshine Riptide: 9/10 piña coladas
Bishops Knife Trick: 8.9/10 last blues
But seriously: The musicians of Fall Out Boy are all geniuses and I am shook. This album is a treat and you should do yourself a favor and listen to it right away.