Introduction:

Fall Out Boy is one of the most popular punk rock bands of all time. Founded in 2001 by lead vocalist Patrick Stump, lead guitarist Joe Trohman, bassist Pete Wentz, drummer Ben Rose, and rhythm guitarist T.J. Kunasch. Rose left the group very early and was replaced by Mike Pareskuwicz in 2001. In 2002, Kunasch exited the group and was replaced briefly by Brandon Hamm, who served as rhythm guitarist and backing vocalist before relinquishing the role to Stump and exiting the band. The band released their debut album, Take This to Your Grave, in 2003. That same year, Mike Pareskuwicz left the band was replaced by current drummer Andy Hurley. In 2005, the band released their hugely successful sophomore album, From Under the Cork Tree. This was followed by Infinity On High in 2007, and Folie á Deux in 2008. In 2009, the band took a hiatus, which proved threatening to the mental healths and the careers of the members of the band. In 2013, Fall Out Boy made their triumphant return with Save Rock and Roll. They followed that up with American Beauty/American Psycho in 2015. Now comes their latest release, M A N I A. 

1. Young and Menace

The opening song sets a tone that differentiates it from previous FOB efforts. The production is bold and electric in nature, but overall, it’s a new style for the band. It’s hard to really grasp what they’re going for. It’s not a bad song, but it’s very different.

Track Rating: 6/10

Grade: C-

2. Champion

This sounds more like Fall Out Boy. Stump’s vocals are solid. It’s their signature anthem song that they have on every album now. The arrangements of vocals and instruments are good. It’s a good song and really works for what they want it to be. The production is very complimentary of the songwriting. It’s not their best song of all time, but it’s the best of the album so far.

Track Rating: 7/10

Grade: B

3. Stay Frosty Royal Milk Tea

The vocals and songwriting are on it from the start. It’s actually a pretty good song and feels like an anger-driven, modern rock song. The production is sleek again, but it’s also really solid. This is a good song all around with the more upbeat pacing and “get after it” atmosphere.

Track Rating: 7/10

Grade: B+

4. HOLD ME TIGHT OR DON’T

The whistles and fun tropical production sets the tone for a great song from the start. Stump’s vocals are really strong here. The songwriting is solid, but it’s the production and vocals that truly shine in this song.

Track Rating: 8/10

Grade: A-

5. The Last of the Real Ones

The pianos set up something cool here. The production is really good. The songwriting is actually really good. This one feels like an AB/AP song and it’s great. What could be a hidden allegory for them being the last of the “real ones”, as in the punk rock era is also a really solid story song. This one is the true gem of the album. This is the best song on the album.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A

6. Wilson (Expensive Mistake)

Stump turns in a solid performance with this one. The songwriting is solid but it’s not their best. It’s a good song that really delves into the subject of regrets. It’s actually a solid entry for what’s been a disappointing album so far.

Track Rating: 8/10

Grade: A-

7. Church

The use of choir vocals elevates the song. Stump’s vocals are great. The production and arrangement is actually really good. The songwriting is catchy and good. Overall, it’s another solid entry.

Track Rating: 8/10

Grade: A

8. Heaven’s Gate

Stump’s vocals and performance are stellar. He gets a chance to really croon over some drums and light pianos and funky guitars. The songwriting is really good. This album has picked up on the second half especially with this soulful R&B song.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A

9. Sunshine Riptide (ft. Burna Boy)

The trap beat backed tune is supposed to be a laid back fun one, but the songwriting doesn’t reflect the production. Burna Boy knows what he’s making but he doesn’t full mesh. Stump’s vocals are on point and the production is really good. Overall, it feels muddled.

Track Rating: 6/10

Grade: C

10. Bishops Knife Trick

The production suggest a jovial, laid back finale. Stump presents a final R&B-style sendoff. It’s not great song from a writing perspective, but the production is fantastic. Stump is pretty good in this last song. Sadly, I think this finale doesn’t really make too much more of an impression than the premier song.

Track Rating: 7/10

Grade: C

Conclusion:

What once was one of the best punk rock bands of all time has slowly deteriorated into Alternative Pop. Their last album was fantastic and following it up was no small feat, but this project just doesn’t stack up. While there are a few gems in it, it’s just too muddled and half-baked to be considered any good as a whole.

Album Rating: 6/10

Grade: C-

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