Mania Makes Me Feel Like a Spring Breaker

Thnks fr th mmrs, Fall Out Boy.

I’d like to start my foray into music journalism with a little-known fact about myself: I meditate to “Bodak Yellow” by Cardi B, a modern goddess figure — Demeter in Greece, controlling the harvest, or, as far as I understand, the ebb of pop music. She is setting the bar.

Anyway: Fall Out Boy; new record; Mania. It has a lot of electronic drums, so if you’re a “drum machines have no soul” Denver resident-type, then you will not be super pleased. (Literally, how much of a square do you have to be to hate drum machines in 2018? Trump-era drum radicalism disorients me.) There are a lot of layered chorus-y auto-tuned vocals. The production is “extra” as fuck. That’s a general taste of the record. Gives you a pretty good idea. I feel like people that my friends refer to as “basic” are going to really like this. I really like it. (I have no shame–frankly, “Closer” by the Chainsmokers was my fourth most-listened-to song on Spotify at the end of 2017.) If you like(d) dubstep, you’re gonna like this record. As a former tenth-grade Borgore fan taking the school bus from Hollywood High to Hamilton High School, it definitely strikes a nostalgic note for me.

A lot of Mania’s lyrics focus on being powerful and, like, “bigger than life.” Celebrities are always using this theme. It’s cool because it’s radical in a New Age meditation type of way, but also taps into, like, hedonism. The intersection of this is probably worth analyzing and reminds me that, on a personal note, my religious beliefs sit somewhere between zen and complete nihilism? Where is the line? Whose line is it, anyway?

The record starts with the track “Young and Menace,” to which I reply, “Same.” Sample lyric: “I’ve lived so much life, I think that God’s gonna have to kill me twice?” As someone who part-time believes in reincarnation and basically any other ideology I happen to think of, I feel connected to the thought of God killing me twice! But maybe it’s more of a metaphorical death. Death could represent an orgasm, or maybe these lyrics are about heartbreak. Who knows? I sure don’t!

The song references Britney Spears’s hit single “Oops! I Did It Again ” with the lines “Oops I, did it again, I / Forgot what I was losing my mind about.” (This immediately resonated with me: When I was five, in 2000, I always asked my mom if she was the same age as Britney Spears. Much to my infantile surprise, she was not.) This first track really “goes.” Sounds like if Skrillex starred in a Star Wars movie, you know what I mean?

I like that Fall Out Boy called the next song “Champion.” Listening to it makes me feel powerful because of the chanted chorus: “If I could live through this, I can do anything.” Really nice. Good to hear! Can’t wait to sing along to this while watching the smog circle above industrial Los Angeles, caught in stopped 405 traffic as I read about the ongoing dialogue about nuclear warfare between world powers on my smartphone.

“Stay Frosty Royal Milk Tea” is another loud EDM song. It sounds like The Transformers soundtrack and ends with a big boom. The next song is like that Ed Sheeran “In love with your body” song that is on the radio all the time. It sounds like someone trying to relax in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, drinking a piña colada but then realizing that the server is sleeping with their ex and throwing their drink at them, or something, right? I would do that too if I ever went to Cabo. The song is called “HOLD ME TIGHT OR DON’T” because nuance is dead in 2018 and we all are tweeting in 280 characters or less and taking our iPads out at the DMV. Can’t wait for someone to Shazam this at Best Buy.

“You are the sun and I am just the planets spinning around you.” OK, this lyric, literally gagging, feeling like I just regressed into Tumblr circa 2010 when a saturated picture of the galaxy was my computer background and I thought having a favorite font was OK. The chorus goes, “You are the last of a dying breed,” and, “You are the last of the real ones,” and I feel like this has to be referencing how AI technology is developing and soon we are all going to be fucking robots. Like, fucking robots both as in we will be the robots and will be having intercourse with them. That is what this song is about. Anyway, it sounds good, I guess.

“Wilson (Expensive Mistakes)”—I can’t make out the first half of the first line of this song, but I love that it ends with, “But then I got drunk and I forgot what I was talking about.” Very relatable lyric. Wondering how many Wall Street music suits put their heads together to write it. Honestly touched by it. Wow.

“Church” starts slow, then the drums come in and lots of choral voices are in the background and there are electronic bells, OF COURSE, don’t worry! God forbid they forget to program the chimes. “I am just a human trying to avoid my certain doom.” I like how this record touches on a lot of themes relevant to my life; Certain doom, for example, is something I think about often, mostly when I log into Facebook, sip my microbrew, and try to reckon with the fact that there is no such thing as a stable genius.

The next song is called “Heaven’s Gate.” We went from church to heaven’s gate. What is the agenda with this track order? Do I detect religious propaganda? Saying that Church is the only way to get to Heaven’s Gate? Going to be thinking about this when I read Sylvia Plath poems aloud to myself while crying later. This song uses that progression that makes a song immediately successful. It’s like the pop one-six-four-five, I’m pretty sure????

“Sunshine Riptide” reminds me that I grew up in California and always resented all my friends who had successful parents in the film industry. There’s an attempt at reggae mid-song. “Bishop’s Knife Trick” is the hottest song title I have ever heard. The intro is also hot. I like how he says “pedal to the metal;” I feel like that’s an underused phrase. Then he says “pity party,” and I get uncomfortable because of the alliteration and his diction. There’s cool production on this song that reminds me of Cher’s “Do you believe in life after love?” It sounds like fairies falling down a waterfall. I like that about this song. There’s a lot of vocal affectation in general on this record. Like, “Ooooo eee yeah! Ah,” kinda stuff. People like that for driving in their cars fast, I think. Don’t get a speeding ticket, though, folks!

Mania by Fall Out Boy… Thnks fr th mmrs. This record makes me feel like I am a member of the Spring Breakers, seething with absurdity on the brink of reptilian-hood in a post-IPA society.

Harmony Tividad is a song writer from Los Angeles, CA. She plays in the band Girlpool and finds her spare time spent deconstructing God through the lens of a person who loves stuffed animals and crystals, but from a “practical” standpoint. When not writing in third person, she finds herself usually talking in first person about the myth and the lie. Much of her life has been spent deifying her acquaintances.