Fall Out Boy, “Mania”: Rockers are having a tough time on pop radio these days. Unless they’re willing to go the full Maroon 5 and chase the latest trends the way the pop singers do, bands can’t really get radio to stay interested in them.
Fall Out Boy has been one of the few bands, along with Imagine Dragons, that still commands attention in both the pop and rock worlds. And their adventurous new album “Mania” shows why.
Singer-guitarist Patrick Stump makes the most of his distinctive voice, which manages to always sound soulful whether he’s playing tough (“The Last of the Real Ones”) or vulnerable (“Bishops Knife Trick”).
However, what makes Fall Out Boy so exceptional is that regardless of the musical backdrop, bassist Pete Wentz’s cutting lyrics still maintain their rock edge.
“I’ll stop wearing black when they make a darker color,” Stump sings in “Wilson (Expensive Mistakes),” which is basically Fall Out Boy’s twist on Lorde’s “Royals” with some rafter-shaking bass drops thrown in for good measure. On the thunderous “Stay Frosty Royal Milk Tea,” they even manage a bit of esteem-building with the chant, “The only thing that’s here that’s stopping me is me.”
The musical ambitions on “Mania” can be stunning. On the new single “Hold Me Tight or Don’t,” it sounds like they could bust into Shakira’s “Hips Don’t Lie” at any moment, though Shak wouldn’t probably go for a line like “I took too many hits off this memory.” On “Sunshine Riptide,” they blend trap and reggae with the help of Burna Boy. They fill the EDM-drenched “Young and Menace” with massive drops and plenty of skittering edits, though they do add a nod to Britney Spears.
Every song on “Mania” could be a successful single on pop radio, while also fit next to the rest of the Fall Out Boy catalog — no small feat.
— Glenn Gamboa, Newsday
Mary Gauthier, “Rifles and Rosary Beads”: For nearly five years, Mary Gauthier has been working with a Texas nonprofit called SongwritingWith:Soldiers, doing exactly what the name indicates. The result is the first great album of 2018.
As an Americana singer-songwriter, Gauthier has always had a terse, understated style that cuts to the bone, as exemplified by her best-known and most-covered song, “I Drink.” Here the recovering substance abuser puts those qualities to work, and summons her considerable empathy, as she crafts the stories of real veterans into 11 devastatingly frank and gut-wrenching songs.
“What saves you in the battle can kill you at home,” Gauthier observes in the slow-building opener, “Soldiering On.” That theme of combat’s lasting psychic wounds resurfaces throughout the set, and “The War After the War,” from a spouse’s perspective, shows that the soldier is not always the only casualty of war.
— Nick Cristiano, Philadelphia Inquirer