Since ending their five-year hiatus in 2013 with “Save Rock and Roll,” Fall Out Boy has been making steps away from their emo roots and toward experimenting with the more contemporary sounds of the musical scene. The release of their seventh album, “M A N I A,” is another deliberate step toward establishing this new identity.
As the record title suggests, the band gives listeners a “manic” experience with their diverse exploration of sound not only between songs, but within them. This goal is exemplified in their opening track, “Young and Menace.” While the verses somewhat commit to the rock identity of “post-hiatus” Fall Out Boy, the chorus makes a dramatic shift into the world of EDM with heavy bass drops and electronics used to pitch-shift Stump’s voice.
As the record’s opening track and first single, it suggests that maybe this will be the album Fall Out Boy takes on a totally new musical role with the use of EDM, but that was not the case. The following tracks better retain the more currently recognizable pop-rock identity of the band with some integration of different sounds outside of the rock genre.
The second track, “Champion,” is an example of where the band doesn’t wander far from home. The song begins with a darker, mysterious sound, produced by minimal instrumentation of the guitar, bass and some percussion below Stump, who is settling in at his lower range. As the chorus approached, the song eventually escalates into a power-chord heavy chorus featuring the one-of-a-kind upper range of Stump screaming lyrics like “I can live through this, I can do anything!”
The effective, manic aesthetic returns with the track “Stay Frosty Royal Milk Tea.” The track begins with a jarring, pulsating rhythm by the bass and drums. As the song continues, the band creates a push and pull effect in tempo and instrumentation, pushing fans in all different directions.
The band dips their toes into Latin territory with “HOLD ME TIGHT OR DON’T” featuring a traditional Latin rhythm and accompaniment of a more synthesized steal pan sound.
With the tracks “Church” and “Heaven’s Gate,” the band slows down with the bluesy-gospel style in “Church,” continuing with an added layer of 1950s doo-wop in “Heaven’s Gate.” This laid-back mood is immediately contrasted by the band’s sampling of a reggae/hip-hop vibe in “Sunshine Riptide” featuring singer-songwriter, Burna Boy.
As someone who used to sing “Dance Dance” and “Thnks fr th Mmrs” with friends in the comfort of her own home, and even enjoying a run with “Save Rock and Roll” or “American Beauty/American Psycho” blasting through my headphones, “M A N I A” seems like a bit of a stretch for me to accept as a Fall Out Boy album. However, for a band that has persisted through the emergence of several new generations of artists and faces new musical styles at the forefront, we can’t argue the band’s desire for change.
Lucille Littlefield is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.