FALL OUT BOY
BOTTOM LINE Expanding their rock horizons without losing their pop-punk essence.
Rockers are having a tough time on pop radio these days. Unless they’re willing to go the full Maroon 5 and chase the latest trends the way the pop singers do, bands can’t really get radio to stay interested in them.
Fall Out Boy has been one of the few bands, along with Imagine Dragons, that still commands attention in both the pop and rock worlds. And their adventurous new album “Mania” (Island / DCD2) shows why.
Singer-guitarist Patrick Stump makes the most of his distinctive voice, which manages to always sound soulful whether he’s playing tough (“The Last of the Real Ones”) or vulnerable (“Bishops Knife Trick”). He also manages it in an array of ever-changing musical settings.
However, what makes Fall Out Boy so exceptional is that regardless of the musical backdrop, bassist Pete Wentz’s cutting lyrics still maintain their rock edge. “I’ll stop wearing black when they make a darker color,” Stump sings in “Wilson (Expensive Mistakes),” which is basically Fall Out Boy’s twist on Lorde’s “Royals” with some rafter-shaking bass drops thrown in for good measure. On the thunderous “Stay Frosty Royal Milk Tea,” they even manage a bit of esteem-building with the chant, “The only thing that’s here that’s stopping me is me.”
The musical ambitions on “Mania” can be stunning. On the new single “Hold Me Tight or Don’t,” it sounds like they could bust into Shakira’s “Hips Don’t Lie” at any moment, though Shak wouldn’t probably go for a line like “I took too many hits off this memory.” On “Sunshine Riptide,” they blend trap and reggae with the help of Burna Boy. They fill the EDM-drenched “Young and Menace” with massive drops and plenty of skittering edits, though they do add a nod to Britney Spears.
Every song on “Mania” could be a successful single on pop radio, while also fit next to the rest of the Fall Out Boy catalog — no small feat.