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Album Review

Rock is still alive¬—even if it sounds a bit more like pop when coming from Fall Out Boy.

Mania, this Chicago band's seventh studio effort, is also its third in a row to top the charts. The album was originally scheduled to be released in September of 2017. But the band didn't think it was quite ready yet, delaying its debut until January 2018.

Hardcore fans might be been disappointed by that delay. But bassist and lyricst Pete Wentz told Billboard, “The only other alternative was to put out a record that we felt was mediocre.” They didn't, if strong sales of Mania are any indication.

Combining electropop, rock and even dubstep into an innovative sonic mix, Fall Out Boy brings its fans a taste of what the future looks like through its eyes. That taste is sometimes bitter, sometimes sweet, sometimes both at once.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements

Conclusion

Pro-social Content

The pressures of the world don't get the last word in “Sunshine Riptide": “The world tried to burn all the mercy out of me/But you know I wouldn’t let it.” Meanwhile, “Wilson (Expensive Mistakes)" talks about the dangers of trying to conform to others' expectations, with the group saying that they “became such a strange shape … from trying to fit in.”

“The Last of the Real Ones” tells the story of a man who meets a woman he describes as “the last of a dying breed." He wants their love to last forever as they “write [their] names in the wet concrete.” And in “Hold Me Tight or Don't,” a woman helps humanize a coldhearted man: “I never really feel a thing," he admits. "You were the only one/That even kinda came close." In “Heaven’s Gate,” a man will do anything to help his beloved: “I got dreams of my own/But I want to make yours come true.” And on "Church," someone dealing with rejection muses, "I love the world, but I just don’t love the way it makes me feel."

In “Stay Frosty Royal Milk Tea,” a guy realizes that “the only thing that’s ever stopping me is me” and admits that “some princes don’t become kings.” “Champion” focuses on someone who appears to be battling a metal disorder. We hear him say, “If I can live through this/I can do anything.” And "Last of the Real Ones" describes a lonely man who eventually finds someone he can connect with: “I was just an only child of the universe/And then I found you.”

Objectionable Content

In “Bishops Knife Trick” someone claims he's experiencing a “spiritual revolt from the waist down.” Desperation and depression mingle elsewhere on that track: “These are the last blues we’re ever gonna have/Let’s see how deep we get.” Futility and regret pervade the lyrics, too: “Looking through pieces of broken hourglass/Trying to get it all back.”

Though “Sunshine Riptide” rightly acknowledges the disillusionment and dissatisfaction that can come from fame, drugs and alcohol still provide an unhealthy escape from those feelings: "The pills are kicking in/… No idea what I’m doing now/… It’s time to throw in the towel.” (We hear repeated f-words on that song as well). Similar themes can be heard in “Wilson (Expensive Mistakes)": "Gonna say something that would solve all our problems/But then I got drunk and I forgot what I was talking about." We also repeatedly hear, "I'll stop wearing black when they make a darker color," as well as multiple s-words.

"Hope" seems in short supply on "Church," where we hear, "I am just a human trying to avoid my certain doom.” And in “Heaven’s Gate,” a lover says he'll need a “boost over heaven’s gate” from the woman who is like “the one habit I just can’t kick.” “Hold Me Tight or Don't” describes a failed relationship by saying, "We were lovers first/Confidants but never friends.”

“Stay Frosty Royal Milk Tea” glumly broods, "Seems like the whole d--n world went and lost its mind/All of my childhood heroes have fallen off or died/… But the alcohol never lies, never lies.” In “Champion,” someone is “calling you from the future/To let you know we made a mistake.”

“Young and Menace” offers a darkly sarcastic tribute to the group's excesses: “And I lived so much life…/I think that God is gonna have to kill me twice/… I’m just here flying off the deep end.”

Summary Advisory

Lyrics can be tricky. That's even more true when they come from a band famous for fusing playful euphuisms and naughty double entendres with clever cultural allusions.

Mania is no exception. Fans will once again wade into lyrics layered with meanings, narratives that weave stories of love, loss and other topics into a tapestry of pop-rock sounds. Pete Wentz knows it's dense stuff. He said of his group's faithful fan base, “They’ve been very loyal. I don’t think we’re an easy, popular act to swallow.”

I agree. And despite some meaningful moments of introspection here, profanity and a sense of futility do indeed make Mania a tough pill to swallow much of the time.

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

Genre

PopRock

Author

Cast

Director

Distributor

Network

Performance

Debuted at No. 1.

Record Label

Island Records

Platform

Publisher

Released

January 19, 2018

On Video

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Kristin Smith

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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