Single Review: “Young and Menace” by Fall Out Boy

After confusing tweets and a cryptic trailer, Fall Out Boy have released a new single, along with the announcement of a new album titled M A  N   I    A and a tour across North America this Fall. The single, titled “Young and Menace,” is a departure from what one might expect from Fall Out Boy, with their earlier work centering around punk and emo, as we are all familiar with from our scene phase. While “Young and Menace” keeps much the same sentiments (if you couldn’t tell from the title), they focus it around a largely EDM inspired structure, that takes the listener entirely by surprise. If you’re looking for the pure rock, emo charm, and cheesy but relatable lyrics of From Under the Cork Tree, you probably won’t find that here. But if you are open to some experimentation and willing to give it some time (and hopefully aren’t susceptible to migraines), Fall Out Boy may have some tricks up their sleeves.

Fall Out Boy has been on a strange journey for the last few years. After reforming from a hiatus in 2012, they released Save Rock and Roll, a powerful album with cameos from Elton John, Courtney Love, and Big Sean, along with a series of videos called the “Young Blood Chronicles.” This was followed by the EP PAX-AM Days and the LP American Beauty/American Psycho, an album that was, while noteworthy, hardly memorable. By far their greatest failure as a band came with their take on the Ghostbusters theme song, a collaboration with Missy Elliott. While a valiant effort, I understand why some may have given up on FOB at that point.

However, “Young and Menace” may make those who have forgotten about Fall Out Boy perk up their ears again. It’s a song about growing old as a band, nostalgia, being an outsider, and the years of psychological disorders members of the band have dealt with (Pete Wentz, bassist and songwriter, suffers from manic depression). It’s a lot for one song to handle, but it touches on each of these ideas, with strange lyrics that may seem trivial but long-time FOB fans may pick up on.

The song begins with just some minor chords and Patrick Stump’s vocals, but as soon as the drumkick comes in, you know it’s building up to something big. Then the chorus takes a 180 degree turn and throws you on your back. Anyone familiar with Fall Out Boy likely checked to see if they skipped to a different band by accident. At first listen, it’s strange and a little disconcerting, and takes you on a trip. But after a closer look, it’s filled with little intricacies that make it a much deeper and interesting track.

Sometimes I hear a FOB song and think to myself, “But what’s the rest of the band doing?” The song can be so filled with electric beats and distorted that anyone except Patrick hardly seem necessary. I felt the same on this song. But, after a little research, it turns out it’s largely composed of every member. Listen to the second verse and you can hear the creepy licks of Joe Trohman’s guitar, and the chorus features insane drumming from Andy Hurley. Patrick’s vocals are pitched in every direction, but so is every instrument. While the chorus may be nauseating, I believe the verses are far subtler in their method of capturing the ideas we’ve been missing from FOB. They’re filled with creative sounds and layering that perfectly utilizes Stump’s vocals without overstretching them.

If you’ve already thrown off your headphones after the first chorus, maybe pick them up again, and give it a couple more listens. I can’t promise that it’s the best of FOB, or that they are ushering in a new era of punk, but I can say that it may surprise you the second or third time around. That being said, M A  N   I    A may be the perfect term to describe how it feels to listen to this song on repeat for an hour straight, as I have.

M A  N   I    A will be released September 15th and is available for pre-order now. Check out the video for “Young and Menace,” which features some amazing visuals, as well as llama monsters and social commentary based off the movie “Elf”.

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