After what most fans were quite sure was going to turn into a permanent breakup rather than an indefinite hiatus, Fall Out Boy broke their four-year silence and announced that they were working on a studio album. The April release Save Rock and Roll shot straight to number one, the band played a string of festival dates across the globe, and fans the world over were elated with the band’s thunderous return. News from the Fall Out Boy camp couldn’t really get much better, or so fans thought, until the September brought the announcement of an EP in the works: PAX AM Days.
PAX AM Days, named after the record label of producer Ryan Adams, is a short but not so sweet thirteen minutes in length, boasting eight gritty, rough sounding tracks, a world away from the highly polished sound Fall Out Boy have found within the last decade. Bassist Pete Wentz has cited hardcore bands such as Descendants and Lifetime as his personal influences, and these are evident from the opening track ‘We were doomed from the start (the king is dead)’, with fast riffs and a rawer sound, immediately separating PAX AM Days from previous releases.
This is certainly not the Fall Out Boy record you would expect, but it is undeniably full of talent; each track is a fast-paced, urgent and somewhat aggressive example of the band’s ability to dabble in something other than their trademark punk-pop style, and despite temporarily dropping their typical sound, the songs are unmistakably Fall Out Boy, marked by lead singer Patrick Stump’s hugely versatile and recognizable voice, particularly in ‘Demigods’. ‘Hot to the touch, cold on the inside’, and ‘Eternal Summer’ both feature chanted or shouted lyrics which hold great potential as a live crowd favourites, akin to the likes of ‘Grand Theft Autumn’, with an opening chant that has cemented itself as the band’s ‘national anthem’. The percussion provided by Andrew Hurley, most notably in‘Love, Sex, Drugs’ is perfectly fitting within this genre, with a fast pace that exudes talent, something which is often gone unnoticed within in Fall Out Boy songs. Aside from this, however, this track in particular is the low point of the EP, despite being the track that the band used to announce the album. This is due to the rapid-fire strained-sounding chorus, which Stump’s voice is certainly not suited to.
Wentz once stated that Fall Out Boy were ‘hard-core kids who decided they were going to write pop music’ and this record is evidential of why. PAX AM Days is certainly an impressive album within its own right and genre, but it is not Fall Out Boy’s greatest effort, with their previous release significantly outshining it and proving that the band sounds best with a little extra production that this album recieved. The EP status of PAX AM Days suggests that the band were pushing past their musical boundaries into new territory without the financial risk or time consuming nature of producing an album in its entirety, and I would not expect to see a fully produced album of a similar nature from the Chicago-quartet. Despite this, the EP is certainly worth a listen, even if punk isn’t something you’d normally find on your iPod; at only thirteen minutes long, really, what do you have to lose? Fall Out Boy are appearing across UK Arenas in March 2014, and with two new releases to perform, I’d strongly advise you grab your tickets now!
Review by Sophie Weller