The answer? The announcement of experimental studio album M A N I A which had a delayed release due to the less than welcoming reception of debut track Young And Menace. The track combines strong EDM beats with heavy guitar, a decision which wasn’t regarded highly by long-term followers of the group, as shown by the response to the track on social media, demonstrating a U-turn from their early punk roots. The band originated from Chicago’s hard punk scene which had a strong impact on early albums such as debut release Take This to Your Grave but any traces of fiery punk appear to have been erased from the group’s mentality.
Fall Out Boy attempted to reassure fans that the album wouldn’t all be experimental styling with the release of second single Champion, co-written by Australian singer-songwriter Sia. The track opens with punchy guitar riffs blending into the alt-pop rock which the once emo chart toppers have become known for, since their comeback in 2013 with the release of Save Rock and Roll.
It is clear Fall Out Boy didn’t want to retreat to their comfort zone with M A N I A and at times this worked. Take, for example, The Last Of The Real Ones a heroic rock ballad saturated with celestial metaphors for love and devotion, and following track HOLD ME TIGHT OR DON’T, a catchy euro-pop anthem perfect for summer road trips. Tracks such as these suggest a shift to producing a style of music that is more mainstream indicating the potential for tunes that could sit quite comfortably in global pop charts. However principally, more fine-tuning is needed for this switch to be successful.
Although the Chicago rockers get it right with some tracks, there are more failures than success stories on this album. Overall the band’s decision to take a more experimental route leaves songs feeling disconnected from one another. For instance, the sampling of pipe organs and religious choir in fifth track Church clashes with the reggae/rap combination of Sunshine Riptide. The attempted fusion of genres seemingly leaves the album lacking flow and continuity.
The release of M A N I A confirms a definite shift for the band from their early punk days yet Fall Out Boy still don’t seem to be clear on the new path they want to pursue. Overall, the album symbolises a failed attempt to properly break into mainstream pop charts. Although M A N I A contains a couple of unprecedented bangers, let’s hope this is just a momentary blip in Fall Out Boy’s previously impressive discography.