Manic, but Melodically Sacred

Those of you who remember “Joy in Journalism”, my old blog from my college years, I posted my Music Duchess series of album reviews. For this time only, I have decided to bring it back, especially since it took months to get my hands on this gorgeous purple record from my dearest Avengers of rock and roll.

Album: Fall Out Boy, Mania, 2018

Rating: 4.5 stars (out of 5)

Warning: This album contains themes not suitable for people under 15.

Recommended Tracks: Last of the Real Ones, Heaven’s Gate, Wilson (Expensive Mistakes), Hold Me Tight or Don’t, Bishop’s Knife Trick

“My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark” was an instant stroke of genius. “Uma Thurman” and “Centuries” both became viral hits on the radio that no one could put down.

“She wants to dance like Uma Thurman, bury me til I confess… Keep you like an oath/ May nothing Til Death Do Us Part…” Enter the theme from the Munsters TV show, blending Pulp Fiction terms with Kill Bill phrases, and you’ve got something everybody loves. Or most of everybody.

And everybody likes to scream “I’m on fire” to the arena romp of “My Songs Know…”.

There are albums of the earlier Fall Out Boy that I would usually recommend: Take This to Your Grave, Infinity on High, or their multi platinum sophomore hit From Under the Cork Tree, 13 tracks long, with one big anthem bigger than the last: “Of All the Gin Joints…”, “Dance, Dance”, “Sugar, We’re Goin Down”, the first song of theirs I’ve ever heard when I was just 16, or “A Little Less 16 Candles…”

But if you really, really want to listen to Mania, their latest album, I will say: you have been warned. From the moment you saw the purple cover of the album, there is a warning saying that this album is not for the young ones, and I mean really, really young. Children under 15. The reason why I say that is because of the album’s title: Mania. And for the warning in the bottom corner: PARENTAL ADVISORY: EXPLICIT CONTENT.

I have the other six Fall Out Boy albums from Grave to American Beauty/ American Psycho, and I’ve at last noticed this is the very first Fall Out Boy album that actually has some more swearing and it has much darker themes than the last two records. This is the first album of theirs with the parental advisory warning.

I feel like these guys have grown up a little too fast. Get a load of these lyrics: “The sign says don’t tap the glass/ but I read it in reverse/ the world tried to burn all the mercy out of me… the pills are kicking in/ she said I love you til I don’t…”

Those are the lyrics to “Sunshine Riptide”, which features a little hip hop vocal from Burna Boy.

When I saw the lyrics to this song and listened to it a second time, I could hear the hidden mania going through Pete Wentz’s head. I think after hearing this entire album that Wentz may have been recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder around the same time as Miley Cyrus or Mariah Carey. The lyrics sound like Pete knows what it’s like to be held in a mental ward of a hospital and he can’t take losing his mind anymore.

Or maybe he can’t take losing his mind over falling for some girl. That may be the theme of the album: love and fame drives people crazy enough to put them over the edge of mental illness.

Some of my favorite lyrics and melodies from the album has to be “Last of the Real Ones”: “I’m here in search of your glory/ there’s been a million before me/ That ultra kind of love/ that you never walk away from/ You’re just the last of the real ones…” It sounds like a single with its piano intro and guitars and percussion similar to some of the songs on their last album, American Beauty.

“Hold Me Tight or Don’t” sounds like a continuation of the Big Hero 6 single “Immortals”, but it really isn’t when you hear the lyrics. “I got too high again when I realized I can’t not be with you/ or just be your friend…” Sounds like a trick, that the song sounds oriental with the whistling and Asian rhythm, but it really is about an unrequited love between a girl and a guy she stuck in the friend zone, who’s off in fantasy land, having hallucinations of being in a sexual relationship with her.

My all time favorite that I just added to my ‘Rock Therapy’ playlist on my iPod is “Heaven’s Gate” where Patrick Stump belts, “One look from you and I’m on that faded love/ out of my body/ and flying above… And I’ll tell you that I am fine/ But I’m a missile that’s guided to you… And in the end if I don’t make it on the list/ would you sneak me a wristband/ Would you give me a boost over heaven’s gate?” The song is completely soulful, like John Legend, only it combines soul, gospel, and R&B with rock and roll. And Patrick’s voice is raw, pure, and just like he came back from Heaven itself.

It also seems like Patrick has an even higher range than I thought he did from their third album Infinity, where his highest note was in the refrain of “Carpal Tunnel of Love”. His falsetto is just unbelievable.

The only song I didn’t like was “Young and Menace”, for it was some combination of death metal, probably industrial music, and heavy duty dance nightclub music. With the different voice distortions on Patrick’s singing, a little too much electronic alterations, and heavy, heavy guitars and deafening drums, I couldn’t listen to it for one minute. The beginning of the song was extremely quiet until Patrick got to the refrain of “I am the young and the menace” and everything just went too psychotic.

But the mentions of Nikki Sixx and Britney Spears’s “Oops I Did it Again” in that song were really funny, for I believe the song was intended as a satire of how most celebrities like Spears and Carey need serious mental therapy. Most pop singers start off young, then they turn ugly when they start causing crime and getting into drugs because of what the record companies put them through. Most of them need therapists and psychiatrists now. Miley Cyrus has definitely shown signs of mania in her life, and Amanda Bynes has had many episodes of mania and psychosis.

But as far as the melody and rhythm of that song, it just doesn’t agree with me for it gives me a headache. But from an artist’s standpoint, I wouldn’t change a thing about it because I appreciate it for being a work of art. Music should be considered an art form.

This album screams bipolar depression: “Wilson” talks about spending money on careless things, like making large purchases/ shopping sprees or spending money on getting out of jail or a hospital, that part of the bipolar illness. It also talks about drinking and getting “my shit together”, and alcohol abuse is a sign of mental illness. “Church” is a better rock opera/ gospel song that beats the hell out of that other stupid pop song that I hate called “Take Me to Church”, confessing more about a person’s problems to a lover, and how they want to make up for those problems and avoid depression. “Champion” takes a more narcissistic approach as Fall Out Boy lyrics always do, making too much of an optimist approach, which most people with bipolar do in instances when they expect the most of something. Even “Hold Me Tight” says “I need to come down”, telling people that this person needs to come down off the ledge, or calm down from their mania problems.

Bipolar is a mix of very high highs and very low lows. All the songs, including the one ballad “Heaven’s Gate”, shows all of the scars and warts of the same mental illness that all people with this disability suffer with.

Mania went above and beyond my expectations of this record. I am overly impressed with this. It may as well be the best album they’ve ever made, for they keep topping their best and going sky high with their music abilities.

Patrick, Andy, Pete, and Joe, you are the American Gods of punk rock, and one of the Last of the Real Ones, the last of the rock and roll stars. You have achieved artist status next to Vincent Van Gogh and Beethoven.

But know that you punk music listeners were warned. This album is a very heavy dose of Ativan, Valium, Seroquel, or mood stabilizer that will alter your very soul. Use as directed, take with caution.

-The Nerd Queen


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