Fall Out Boy’s road to releasing their seventh studio album “M A N I A” was a rocky one. The album’s lead single, “Young And Menace,” was released last April to a vast majority of unfavorable reviews. Longtime fans criticized the song for being a stark departure from the band’s pop-punk roots with its autotuned EDM sound. “M A N I A”’s original September release date was also postponed until Jan. 19 after lead singer Patrick Stump explained that the process “felt very rushed” in a Twitter statement.
Now that the band’s long awaited follow-up to 2015’s “American Beauty/American Psycho” has finally arrived, it contains a wide range of both radio-ready pop synths and heavier rock anthems. The variety of sounds found on “M A N I A” proves that Fall Out Boy is no longer the poster child for the emo scene that they were ten years ago.
Following “Young and Menace” as the album opener, “Champion” and “Stay Frosty Royal Milk Tea” are standouts, with their heavy guitar riffs and fast pace being the album’s biggest similarities to the band’s early days. The two are also notable examples of Fall Out Boy’s famous lyrical style and pop culture references, especially when Stump sings, “I’m about to Tonya Harding on the whole world’s knee.”
Stump’s electric vocal range is in full effect on “M A N I A” as he hits a multitude of high notes in “Church” and during the slower ballad “Heaven’s Gate.” This showcase of Stump’s soulful voice might be the most impressive aspect of the entire album.
While Fall Out Boy might have hit some high marks in “M A N I A,” the album as a whole is their biggest departure from their pre-hiatus pop-punk sound to date. A diehard Fall Out Boy fan might be disappointed by the lack of heavy guitar and drums that were a staple in albums such as “From Under the Cork Tree” (2005), and the appearance of pop-heavy jams such as “HOLD ME TIGHT OR DON’T.”
While “M A N I A” might not be the Fall Out Boy that people cherished during their middle school emo phases, their new work is a refreshing twist on the pop-punk roots that first escalated the band into the mainstream spotlight.