Fall Out Boy

PAX AM Days EP

Written by: TL on 15/12/2013 22:22:43

Did you ever get the feeling that all famous people are in a secret club through which they get to know each other? Chicago natives Fall Out Boy are arguably in the top 5, if not top 3, of the largest bands that ever came out of pop-punk and they only just released their poppiest album ever in form of the comeback album "Save Rock And Roll" from earlier this year. North Carolina-born Ryan Adams is pretty much the name and voice at top of anything that's been modern and relevant about American folk/country in the last ten years or so. So how does the former find themselves hanging in the latter's PAX AM studio in LA, reminiscing about their shared love for hardcore punk rock?

I'm not sure, but back in July, Fall Out Boy visited Adams in PAX AM, bringing along "four or five rough ideas" they'd come up with for fun, and when they came out after a weekend there they suddenly had eight songs of near-improvisation recorded that they weren't even sure they would put out, but which eventually surfaced as this, the "PAX AM Days" EP. With Adams in the producer's chair and nobody really worrying about what the results would be used for, the collaboration allowed itself to create something that has all the off tune guitars and furious speed of a hardcore record, yet has somehow still turned out sounding fairly neat all things considered - Perhaps a symptom of these guys all having fine-tuned their skills too much to make something that could ever truly be as sloppy and gritty as a proper hardcore record?

What I mean by this is that while things are fast, and while Patrick Stump and Joe Trohman's guitars are fuzzy and ringing in a way that shows nostalgia for 80s hardcore - the former also throwing his vocals around recklessly - things are clearly only off tune when they're allowed to be. The songs - all short, to the point and over before you'll notice they began - are still sensibly put together and catchy in a way that doesn't sound much like normal Fall Out Boy of any era, yet still has you quickly mouthing the words to the barked gang shouts of "Love, Sex, Death" and "The King Is Dead".

In one sense then, "PAX AM Days" is not a waste of time, because it is sort of fun to hear Fall Out Boy out of there customary polished element, and anything you can sing along to tends to have some merit. But really it's hard to figure out what this EP can really do. I very much doubt fans of regular hardcore punk will care much for it, for while FOB and Adams may enjoy the sounds of it, it seems to me that hardcore has always been about the energy and the message, and you'll hardly feel like Stump is preaching a particularly urgent message on the songs his famous friends and him threw together for the giggles one weekend when they didn't have anything else to do. Conversely, fans of Fall Out Boy's regular outfit will be able to hear that it's clearly the same band, but will otherwise find only minimal shades of the clever pop sensibilities the band's songs usually represent.

I'm personally a pretty big Fall Out Boy fan. I don't know every lyric of theirs but I tend to idolize them high above most of the hundreds of other bands I've reviewed, and still, while I think it's cool that the band did this and that they had the balls to let their mainstream fanbase hear it, I still don't really feel like there's any point with "PAX AM Days". Nothing about it prompts me to get into the lyrics and get to know the band like their normal songs do, and nothing about it suggests that the band would do well to include more of their hardcore punk influences in future material. It's simply a short and simple burst of roughed up catchyness, that feels like it's sort of just there on my playlist for no real reason, and while it would rank an 8 or higher if simply for the count of catchy refrains, it ranks a good deal lower for moments that are at all touching or interesting. Most of all it feels like a collector's item for completionist super fans, and while it's enjoyable while it lasts, I do understand if the band questioned whether there was any reason to share it beyond their own ranks in the first place.

6

Download: We Were Doomed From The Start (The King Is Dead); Love, Sex, Death;
For The Fans Of: bigger bands flashing their hardcore roots: Silverstein's "Short Songs", Funeral For A Friend's "Conduit", My Chemical Romance's "Conventional Weapons", mid-career AFI records.
Listen: facebook.com/falloutboy

Release Date 15.10.2013
Island / PAX AM

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