Review: Fall Out Boy – Lake Effect Kid

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It’s a cliché at this point for bands to try to rediscover their roots or pay homage to their hometown. However, Fall Out Boy’s Lake Effect Kid EP is one of the few that feels genuine. Brief as it may be, these three songs not only form a love letter to Chicago, they offer a brief history of the band’s evolving sound. What could have easily been a quick gimmick is actually a near essential piece that quickly and unapologetically shows Fall Out Boy paying attention to their own legacy.

You can buy or stream Lake Effect Kid on Apple Music.

“Lake Effect Kid” is a B-Side that has made the rounds online for quite some time. Without a proper release or context, it could be easy to overlook. I have often enjoyed the song, but understood why it had been cut from Infinity On High or Folie à Deux. However, this new mix sounds more refined and complete. Additionally, when paired with “City in a Garden”, the song takes on more body, context, and heart.

“City in a Garden”, though it may be a Chicago-centric love fest, is arguably Fall Out Boy’s most accessible and singable single since “Thnks fr th Mmrs”. Oozing with nostalgia, hooks, and dreamlike drumbeats, “City in a Garden” is for Chicago what Jason Mraz and the Red Hot Chili Peppers are for California. While it sonically sounds like a ballad off an older release, the synth and beat are distinctly part of FOB’s new era. “City in a Garden” manages to encapsulate almost every aspect of Fall Out Boy that could make a person fall in love with the band.

Lake Effect Kid’s biggest strength is how reflective it is, while still pushing ahead for the band. “Lake Effect Kid” is the pop punk older fans have been craving for years. “City in a Garden” is the kind of pop song the band couldn’t have written even a couple of years ago without the experience they have now. Meanwhile, closing track “Super Fade” moves forward with experimentation in a place that won’t ruin the flow of a full album. Borrowing heavily from the divisive single, “Young and Menace”, “Super Fade” sounds like a slip-up of a song. However, this EP is the ideal place to work out the kinks of this style of songwriting.

Lake Effect Kid not only pays homage to Chicago as the band’s stomping grounds, it pays homage to their past work. The EP is an answer for anyone who has claimed that the band sold out their sound over the last few albums. Equally as exciting, it shows Fall Out Boy’s willingness to look back on themselves with the same reverence and enthusiasm they’ve shown when looking forward.

by Kyle Schultz

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and makes a gosh darn good apple pie.

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Review: Fall Out Boy – MANIA

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MANIA may be the most infuriating album of the last few years, and one of the few to actually exist and live by its name. Announced nearly a year in advance, launched with a lackluster single, delayed six months, and posted with the wrong tracklist on every digital platform, MANIA is a mess at every conceivable angle. And yet, it is absolutely brilliant.

You can buy MANIA on iTunes.

It is the direct result of Fall Out Boy’s experimentation in pop since their reformation in 2013. The songs are cleaner and the choruses reflect the soaring experiences of Folie À Deux. But MANIA is an experience unto itself that forces you to earn its respect. This will surely be Fall Out Boy’s most divisive album for a number of reasons, but one stands out in particular: There are accidentally two versions of it. If nothing else, the album is a master class in how the order of the tracks can make or break an album.

The initial digital release (the wrong tracklist) held to my belief that I wouldn’t care for MANIA. It sounded dourer and lacked the energy I expect of FOB; just a bunch of uninspired singles with “Young and Menace” as its thesis. However, once the tracklist for the physical release appeared (the right one) and the songs were rearranged, it completely and utterly changed everything. MANIA was an entirely different album that somehow shined and overflowed with the confident sway of Fall Out Boy. It was tight, concise and moved seamlessly.

This version of MANIA is the best album Fall Out Boy have released since Infinity on High.

This album shines with the sound of a classic the way the band’s early releases did. After the unarguable mixed results of pushing the radio-pop sound of their last two albums, MANIA focuses those efforts to a fine point. The guitars are more noticeable than any release since their pop punk days, the percussion is hypnotic, and the bass is monstrous. Patrick Stump, already guaranteed to give a stellar performance, absolutely soars. If the singles didn’t impress upon initial release, listen to them in the context of the album. I don’t know what black magic is at work, but it somehow changes everything.

Opener “Stay Frosty Royal Milk Tea” is a dark rock song with a deep bass that sets up the album with a thesis of acknowledging a chaotic world and the frustrations in it, but how a belief in yourself can overcome it. “The Last of the Real Ones” is a raging pop song centered on imagery of celestial bodies spinning in space.

One of the biggest surprises is the pairing of “Church” and “Heaven’s Gate” at the midpoint of the album. “Church” is an epic sounding rock song that focuses on Pete Wentz’s melodic bass leading a ‘church’ choir through the song. Accompanied by the soft chime of bells and Andy Hurley’s hard percussion, Stump finds equal footing in the love song and prays for a way through personal demons as he sings, “I love the world but I just don’t like the way it makes me feel / Got a few more fake friends and it’s getting hard to know what’s real”.

“Heaven’s Gate” is much softer, with a soul sound that allows Stump’s vocals to jump in spectacular fashion. If you ever needed proof that he may be the best vocalist of any rock band, this will be all the evidence you need. Propelled by the strength of “Church” before it, “Heaven’s Gate” feels all the stronger when Stump croons, “Give me a boost over heaven’s gate / I’m gonna need a boost cause everything else is a substitute for your love”.

Which brings us to “Young and Menace”, the reason I initially soured to MANIA a year before it was even released. An EDM inspired hot mess with a bare thread chorus, I have found this song near unlistenable since its release if for no other reason than the high pitched sampling of Stump’s vocals during the breakdown. However, sitting near the end of the album (instead of the opening track), it is propelled by the songs before it and doesn’t sound nearly as out of place.

After the soaring choruses and precise pop of songs like “HOLD ME TIGHT OR DON’T”, “Young and Menace” is an acknowledgement of Fall Out Boy’s mixed reception since their reformation. The song itself is the most extreme sound they’ve ever attempted, as though it is meant to turn off listeners. However, as Stump sings, “I’m just here flying off the deep end / I’m just here to become the best yet / I’m here for the psych assessment / I’m just here for the, for the fall”, it’s a message to fans that they are aware that they aren’t writing the punk songs half of their fanbase still wants. Instead, they know what direction they to travel in order to become the best band they can be.

MANIA is an anomaly that may just change your opinion of it based on what tracklist you hear. It forces you to work to enjoy it. But once it clicks, it is a beast that harnesses years of experimentation. Even a song as manic as the garbage fire of “Young and Menace” feel like one big feint to throw you off the trail, just to swing out of nowhere. It took a year to make me excited about this album, but it was absolutely worth the wait.

5/5

by Kyle Schultz

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and cannot accept how much he enjoys MANIA. On a scale of just and even, he is sooooo can’t. See you at Wrigley, you monsters of music.

Preparing Ourselves for Fall Out Boy’s “MANIA”

On Friday, Fall Out Boy will return with their seventh full-length album, MANIA. As with everything the band is involved with, debate has been heated in the months leading up the release, sparked early on by a strange single (“Young and Menace”) and the odd delayed release of the album itself.

At this point, we know what to expect from post-hiatus Fall Out Boy: soaring anthems, spectacular vocal gymnastics from Patrick Stump, radio-ready choruses, and some clever lines from Pete Wentz that harken back to the band’s early days. Will MANIA meet fan expectations? Maybe not. But there’s no questioning that we’ll be talking about it well into the summer.

In preparation for Friday, the It’s All Dead writing staff shared their thoughts on the album and how their Fall Out Boy experience has evolved over the years.

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As big of a fan of Fall Out Boy as I am, I’m not looking forward to their seventh studio album. I just don’t know if they still have it in them. Every single I’ve heard thus far – and they’ve released five out of the 10 tracks on the album – hasn’t excited me or brought me the same feelings that American Beauty / American Psycho did, and definitely none of the feelings Folie a Deux (my favorite FOB album) did. I took AB / AP with a grain of salt upon its release, and I like it on its own, rather than as a cohesive addition to their catalog, so maybe MANIA will do the same.

Fall Out Boy have come a long way since they started out in 2001. They became kings of pop punk with Take This to Your Grave and kept climbing until their hiatus in 2009. When they returned to the scene with 2014’s Save Rock and Roll (which did the opposite of the title, if you ask me), I hoped they could rally back and regain the same traction they had originally. Their focus, musically, turned pop and I think they’ve largely suffered for it.

I originally was excited for MANIA, but from what I’ve heard so far, that excitement keeps dying a little bit every day. Here’s hoping they prove me wrong.

– Nadia Paiva

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MANIA is the first Fall Out Boy album that I haven’t been excited about. When “Young and Menace” dropped last year, I found it nearly unlistenable. In that instant, I made my decision: I was going to hate the direction of this album. However, that has changed after the delayed release and the onslaught of new singles throughout the fall.

Many of the newer singles are a solid mix of inspiration from the pop of Folie À Deux and the dance vibe of American Beauty / American Psycho. “Last of the Real Ones” and “Hold Me Tight or Don’t” are quickly becoming Fall Out Boy staples. While “Young and Menace” still hangs like a specter of an album opener, I hope that the six-month release delay did the band good. The singles are more cohesive as a unit than those of their last albums.

I hope that MANIA will be a return to form that flourishes as a cohesive unit. While I have enjoyed each album since the band’s reformation, they have sounded more disjointed than their classic releases. Where Save Rock and Roll and American Beauty / American Psycho sound like a collection of singles, I want MANIA to be a flourishing unit. Even if it starts with a dud.

– Kyle Schultz

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I’m all in. Yes, I had a hard time swallowing “Young and Menace” upon its release and will likely skip the track every time it comes on in the future, but there’s no more denying Fall Out Boy’s ability to write hits. In recent years, I’ve fully embraced a suppressed love of pop music that a younger version of myself refused to acknowledge existed, which has seemed to time itself perfectly with Fall Out Boy’s transformation.

While it’s true that 2018 Pete Wentz lines like “I’ll stop wearing black when they make a darker color” don’t tickle my emo soul the same way his 2005 lyrics did, I love that the band keep winking at their past, even as their sound branches further and further away. And honestly, wouldn’t we all be complaining if the band tried writing From Under the Cork Tree while in their mid-30s? We may not like every decision they make at this point in their career, but it’s hard to argue that they’re doing it their own way.

Who knows, maybe MANIA will fall flat, but based on the mere fact that three of the five tracks released thus far have been delightful, I’m expecting at least a handful of jams to blast all summer long. Maybe my Fall Out Boy expectations have lowered over the years, but that’s enough for me.

– Kiel Hauck