Album Review: Fall Out Boy – Pax Am Days

Pax_am_days_fobIf Fall Out Boy were pizza, they’d be an extra cheese pizza (my favorite) complete with a glass of wine in a limo (see: Home Alone 2: Lost In New York). As my favorite band, I feel it would only be right to have them be my first album review over here on The Daily Slice. Their most recent release, Pax Am Days, would have been an easy album to miss as there was no big hoopla behind its release. To be honest, I didn’t even know it was released until nearly a week had passed and only heard of its existence from people complaining about the sound of the album. When I finally had a chance to listen to it, I was taken aback and had to double check that I was listening to Fall Out Boy. After returning from hiatus with radio-hit album Save Rock & Roll, this EP is far from the sound of the Fall Out Boy that many of us have known and loved.

Fall Out Boy’s Pax Am Days is a logical follow up from Save Rock and Roll. Now that they’ve saved rock and roll, it’s time for anarchy since “the king is dead,” as sung in the opening track, “We Were Doomed From The Start.” The second track, “Art of Keeping Up Disappearances,” plays with similar instrument sounds and vocal lines making it hard to distinguish tracks at first listen. Third track on the EP, “Hot To The Touch, Cold On The Inside,” which has been jokingly “dedicated to hot pockets,” starts off with a great battle chant in which a screeching guitar and pumped up drums kick in. I’m not going to lie, I find myself chanting this song a bit more often than I should. And by that, I mean it’s usually accompanied by pterodactyl screeches and gross sobbing every time I have to write a paper. 

Next up, “Love, Sex, Death,” feels very disconnected to its predecessor. Starting off with rapid riffs and crashing drums (which seems to be the trend for this entire EP) gives it that “demolition derby” feel that Patrick sings later on in the song in that it’s fast paced and exciting and it’s only multiplied in the homemade music video.  However, the entire song feels more like messy yelling rather than singing at all. And these messy vocals continue on in the next song, “Eternal Summer,” which is just pure yelling over messy guitars. However, unlike Patrick’s vocals, halfway through the song, the instruments clean themselves up a bit, only to be later met with a mess of even more sounds.

Keep in mind, you don’t have to number the tracks, besides “first” and “last” “Demigods,” starts out much cleaner than the past few songs and is actually quite enjoyable. The vocals get closer to singing than the last two songs and the instruments actually mesh together instead of sounding messier like earlier tracks. The instruments finally tone themselves down in “American Made” which focuses more on the “I just want my childhood back/I just want my childhood dead” anger in Patrick’s vocals, which is much needed after spending the last few tracks being confused by what I was listening to. It goes hand-in-hand with closing track “Caffeine Cold,” which starts out focused more on the vocals in the beginning as it shares the same toned down, bass-y sound of instruments, keeping them in the background so you can (kind of) hear the vocals.

As a whole, the album can come off as sloppy and unsatisfying with a few exceptions, and I would not say that this was the best album for Patrick Stump’s vocal talents. Throughout the entirety of Pax Am Days, it seems like he’s just screaming these lyrics, not singing, which is actually quite sad. I realize it was part of the anarchy feel of the album, but his voice is one of the greatest things on this planet, especially when infused with that blues-y feel as seen on Folie a Deux. He has so much potential, none of which is pushed with this album. However, I’m going to give him props for trying something new.

Pete’s lyrics, while screamed, are still drowned out under the sounds of rioting instruments. But guitarist Joe Trohman and drummer Andrew Hurley play huge roles in the sound of this album as their instruments make a solid 90% of the album on their own. The screeching of guitars and crashing cymbals definitely adds to the sense of “post-war hysteria” dominant  in this EP. Overall, I’d say this was an attempt at trying something different, so I’ll give them that much for being daring… and maybe even trying to recapture the sound of their youth; but I don’t believe Pax Am Days is a record I’ll be looking for in the future. Sorry, Fall Out Boy.

Rating: 4 out of 8 slices
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