The Tragedy of Fall Out Boy
Many of you might remember your first Fall Out Boy song, whether it was as recent as “Uma Thurman” in the last couple of years, or as early as "Grand Theft Autumn." For me, it was “Dance, Dance,” back during their album, From Under The Cork Tree, which is praised by their fans as the best album they ever released. It was fun, catchy, and overall a step in the right direction for the pop-punk genre.
Fall Out Boy showcased time and time again their unique sound, putting them at the top of the category. “Sugar We’re Goin Down” and “Thnks fr th mmrs” were replayed constantly on various radio stations, and their entertaining and creative music videos were in the spotlight on various television networks.
Fall Out Boy was at the top of their game even when they had released their fourth studio album, Folie à Deux, before their four-year hiatus. Personally, that was my favorite album, as you could hear how much effort was put into every individual track, with drum and guitar work that made you want to move, and vocal harmonies that swept you into each song.
So Fall Out Boy went their separate ways, leaving many fans very upset over their departure, until they announced their upcoming return in 2012. Many people were sceptical at first, since the band members claimed that they were going to be moving away from punk and focusing more on the pop aspect of their sound. When the album, Save Rock and Roll, debuted in 2013 however, it was met with positive reactions.
Their comeback album was a solid performance from start to finish, with anthem-like choruses, heavy-hitting rhythms, and diversity throughout the setlist. Even after their hiatus and the new sound, Fall Out Boy once again took the radio spotlight and showed the world they were not going anywhere.
Unfortunately, that is where they would peak. When American Beauty/American Psycho was released in 2015, I was excited to see what they had next, and while it was met with positive reviews as well, I was unimpressed. Save for a few songs that stood out like bricks of gold, many of the songs were forgettable, empty and lazy-sounding, and definitely focusing way too much on being radio-worthy. The main singles were powerful but also sounded very repetitive, giving off the impression that the choruses were not connected to the verses that were written around them, from a band that had made all of their previous hits sound like they came to Pete Wentz in a dream.
This album sounded like an attempt to blend in with the rest of the pop market. It got to point where I wondered if guitarist Joe Trohman and drummer Andy Hurley had contributed anything to the album. The guitar sections were simple, bland, and sometimes seemingly nonexistent, and the drum tracks were repetitive and sounded very produced. When the band was first starting out, Andy was a god among men on the drums, throwing them down with perfection. In this sixth album, I’m not sure if he even had a drumset.
Then Fall Out Boy started to take on the very infamous term: “sellouts.” When the new “Ghostbusters” movie hit theaters, the band decided to cover the popular soundtrack, and did so to very negative reviews. The cover was unnecessary and poorly executed, and was seen as the low point in their career by their fans. In my opinion, however, the low point was when “Young and Menace” was released.
I still enjoyed American Beauty/American Psycho because it did still have a little Fall Out Boy in there, but when I heard the first single off of their upcoming album, Mania, to say I was disappointed would be a massive understatement. The chorus was a cliche club-remix sound that made me believe that they no longer sought for a quality sound. The tragedy of Fall Out Boy is that they were once kings of music, taking radio spots and shoving their singles into millions of music libraries. They got this status because they stood out from the rest of the crowd, making their own sound and living in it with fantastic results. When Save Rock and Roll was released, they still dominated the charts with their unique approach on modern music. “Unique” is the word that kept them on top for so long, and quality is what they had always produced without fail. With the song, “Young and Menace,” they had surrendered both of those traits to blend in and make themselves out to be just another pop band in a market that produces so many versions of the same song. “Champion” got my attention when it was released and is extremely catchy, but still just does not stand out to me, and sits itself in the background with the rest of genre. “The Last of the Real Ones” sounds like it’s on the right track, but is so sloppily structured that I cannot see myself voluntarily listening to it.
I would say it is too early to determine if Mania will live up to the standards Fall Out Boy have set for themselves, but we already have thirty percent of the album released and none of it has impressed me; I’m more sad about the state of the band if at this point. This feels like it will be an album that is forgotten almost immediately after release, but I will still keep an open mind for a band that has not entirely failed me yet.
Mania is set to be released on January 19, 2018. Get your copy and tell me if I’m wrong. I’ll write a review about it when I do get to hear the finished product.
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© 2017 Joel Steffanus