Today, Fall Out Boy dropped “Young and Menace”, the first single off their upcoming album M A N I A, released on September 15. I have a whole lot of mixed feelings about this song and its accompanying video. I wanted to like it, I really did. I have always had a soft spot for Fall Out Boy, especially their 2008 album Folie à Deux. But this song is just… weird. And not in a good way.
The video is trippy, and I like that aspect. I’m always a fan of artists trying to do something interesting with their music videos. Fall Out Boy has been doing that for years now, most notably with The Youngblood Chronicles, the film comprised of music videos for every song off their 2013 album Save Rock and Roll, so I appreciate their continued desire to experiment with their music videos. That aspect of this song works. The music video works both as a piece of art and as a companion to the song it’s promoting.
The song itself, however, is a different story. I understand the need for bands to evolve and experiment with their sound. It gets stale if you do the same thing over and over again, and I’m always happy when bands decide to take risks with their music. But this song just doesn’t work. It’s unpleasant to listen to. Maybe that’s the point, and when coupled with the video, it’s not too bad. But I can’t imagine listening to this song on its own without the visuals. There’s no catchy beat, parts of it are just unpleasant to listen to. There’s no fun in this song. The song doesn’t give me any kind of emotional reaction. I don’t know what it’s going for, but I know it’s not working.
Lyrically, it’s interesting. And I get that the song is supposed to represent mania, and it works on that front. I appreciate how they’re experimenting with things. That being said, it is still a song. A song doesn’t get a pass just because it has nice lyrics. The music has to be good, too. And it’s not. Again, I get that it’s supposed to represent mania, and it does a good job with that, but it’s still a song that’s designed to be listened to. And as a song, it’s really not fun to listen to. It’s unpleasant and irritating. And I get that may be the goal, but I don’t like it. I like the lyrics, I like the concept, I like the video, but the music just isn’t working for me.
It’s like they took every element from their past two albums that I didn’t like and decided that was the sound they were gonna aim for. Which, fine, it’s your band, if you’re happy with the music, that’s great. But I don’t like it. At all. And I really wanted to, because I really enjoy Fall Out Boy. I grew up on them and Panic! at the Disco and My Chemical Romance and it’s sad to see both Fall Out Boy and Panic! making music that feels so lifeless compared to what they started with. Yes, artists change and evolve and I support this (I supported fun.’s massive change in sound between Aim and Ignite and Some Nights and Green Day has been good at evolving while still holding on to the thing that makes them unique. Plus Paramore’s new song is radically different than their older material, but yet it still feels like Paramore and there’s heart and soul and authenticity in it), but it feels like Fall Out Boy has lost its soul. I’m not saying they sold out, they had no need to. They were already a popular band who had a really good comeback album, but since then it’s like the direction they’ve taken keeps veering more and more into synthetic and fake sounding instruments.
And, yeah, I get that that’s the thing right now. But I don’t have to like it. I’m not trying to be a hipster or some old curmudgeon, but I kinda prefer my music to be made by actual instruments and people who can sing. I appreciate how much skill it takes to make good sounding synthetic music, and I support experimenting with the combination of technology and music. But I’d really like the foundation to still be people playing real instruments and really singing, with the technological elements being used to enhance and expand the experience rather than correct it.
At least it’s clear that Fall Out Boy is still actually playing their own music, but the style is just veering so close to a style of music that I’m really not fond of that I can’t say that I like it. Maybe it’ll please a lot of fans, maybe it’ll please a lot of mainstream audiences, but I didn’t like it. It felt cold, unpleasant, and void of any enjoyment.
I give “Young and Menace” 2 out of 5 wands.