I know that I might be a little late on this considering that the song just came out last Thursday, April 27, but my thoughts on this new single have been bothering me so much that I felt that I had to get my opinion out about it. Now, I will say that Fall Out Boy have been one of my favorite groups ever since my teenage years, at about 13 or 14 years old. I own all their albums on CD and consider their first three releases, Take This to Your Grave (2003), From Under the Cork Tree (2005), and Infinity on High (2007) to be masterpieces in the genre of pop-punk music. Also, while I didn't care so much for their fourth record Folie à Deux (2008) as a whole compared to their first three, it was still a good record that contained some of Fall Out Boy's best songs like "20 Dollar Nose Bleed," "America's Suitehearts," and the ever popular "I Don't Care." So overall, I was a big fan of this band's earlier work and I still come back to those albums a lot, especially if I want to listen to something that brings me back to my childhood.
However, ever since Patrick Stump, Pete Wentz, Joe Trohman, and Andy Hurley decided to end their hiatus and come back to make new music by releasing the albums Save Rock and Roll (2013) and American Beauty/American Psycho (2015), I have had mixed feelings on the band, mainly regarding their sound. I'm not going to say that Fall Out Boy has never tried to explore and incorporate new genres into their music because they have, I mean listen to songs such as "I'm Like a Lawyer with the Way I'm Always Trying to Get You Off (Me & You)" and "This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race" from Infinity on High or "Headfirst Slide into Cooperstown on a Bad Bet" and "What a Catch, Donnie" on Folie à Deux and you'll see that they have delved into different genres such as R&B, soul, funk, and alternative rock in their records. In fact, there are a handful of songs off of their last two albums such as "Alone Together," "Young Volcanoes," "Irresistible," and "The Kids Aren't Alright" that contain elements of electronic, rock, acoustic, and pop music. But, even though the different directions and sounds that the band has taken over these past couple years has been interesting and good at points, It would be nice to hear the band explore different avenues while still adding bits of the sounds that made them who they are today and brought them to the forefront, that's all.
Sadly, with this new lead single off of their upcoming seventh studio project called Mania that is set for a September 15 release date, I don't think they will be going back to that sound anytime soon simply because Fall Out Boy is becoming what I feared that they would become, a straight-up pop act trying to fit in with the times in mainstream music. When I first listened to this new tune of there's titled "Young and Menace," I actually liked the beginning of it with Patrick Stump's quiet yet soulful vocal delivery along with the lyrics in the verses about how the band has dealt with and enjoyed their growing popularity over the last few years and seeing where this new found direction will take them, no matter the obstacles they continue to come across. However, once it gets past the hook and into the chorus, all hell breaks loose as there are constant EDM (Electronic Dance Music)/Dubstep sounds and effects that seem like they go on forever and become more annoying after each listen. Also, Stump's voice becomes drowned out in the loud bombastic sounds by using a vocal effect which I like to call "chipmunk vocals" and it's a major turn off. To me it just ruins the song as a whole.
At first, I really had no problems with Fall Out Boy using electronic and mainstream pop elements in their music on Save Rock and Roll and American Beauty/American Psycho because while I think those are the bands two weakest albums in their discography, a good amount of the tunes on those two releases worked with the new sounds they were adding into the mix, while still including traces of their original sound too. Not to mention that some of the songs from those records were very catchy and that I consider to be favorites of mine from the group. I figured that the next release for the band was going to continue going down this pop/electronic route, but this? I mean, to me it's one thing for a band to go in different directions and explore other types of musical genres while still adding in components that made their act unique and well-known to people in the first place, but it's another thing if they just decide to change their sound completely because they want to fit in with what's trending in the mainstream, in this case EDM/Dubstep, and helps keep themselves relevant in society to sell more records and tickets for their tours. So, after hearing this song on repeated listens, I believe that Fall Out Boy is heading towards the latter category, unfortunately. However, despite how underwhelmed and disappointed I was towards the song, I do think that the music video was very original and creative while being a bit strange at the same time, in a good way. Also, I think that the theme of this album is interesting as I think that this record will address the society we live in today which has us humans constantly working with no stop or rest, a world of Mania with a side of self-centeredness. Pete Wentz even put a message below the music video to "Young and Menace" on YouTube that explains the theme of Mania with a part of the message saying, "An overdose of dopamine- we are living inside of MANIA right now. the never sleeping, never blinking- caught forever in the sunshine riptide." So, just because I have mixed feelings going into this new album from Fall Out Boy doesn't mean that I now hate the band and won't listen to them anymore.I'm being a critical fan because they have done better in the past and I know they can do even better than this.
While there are many die-hard Fall Out Boy fans out there who adore this song so that they can continue supporting the band in all that they do, while trashing the other fans of the band who are showing disapproval and distaste towards the bands new direction at the same time, all I have to say is that's okay. I may disagree with their positive opinions towards "Young and Menace" and think that they just like the song because it's Fall Out Boy, which might make them a little delusional, but if they want to hate on me or any other fans of the band that dislike the new single and continue to criticize the experimental sound they're taking so be it, I won't be hurt. Lastly, since I seemed to have made my case and expressed my feelings towards this new single and forthcoming new album from one of my favorite bands, I will leave with this.
Fans are everything to bands and artists. They are the support system that keeps many of them growing, maturing, and makes them strive to be the best professional act they can be by creating the most satisfying, interesting, and compelling music that they can make for not just their supporters, but all music lovers. However, not all fans have to love every single thing that a band or artist releases and they are entitled to criticize something that they don't like because they are the ones that buy the albums, spend a ton of money on tickets to see them live on tour, and purchase their outrageously expensive memorabilia. I'm not saying that fans should tell bands what they need to sound like on their next album or force them to write a song on a certain topic, but they are a big part of what keeps them going strong in the industry, and for that they have a right to express how they feel about what a band or artist comes out with. Even Pete Wentz said in an interview on The Zach Sang Show that he expected everyone, not just Fall Out Boy fans, to be critical of "Young and Menace", and it may not be the nicest criticism that they will receive based on what he calls the "complainer culture" we live in. In the end, I'm a little nervous seeing where this new album will take Fall Out Boy because while the whole record most likely or at least hopefully will not sound like "Young and Menace," I don't have any expectations of hearing any original sounds or components (like guitar and bass in particular because Andy Hurley's drumming is the only live instrumentation on the new single and that's not a lie) that made them the excellent, talented, and unique band they were over 10 years ago. Until September 15, fingers crossed!
A scene from the music video for Fall Out Boy's new song "Young and Menace"