Fall Out Boy’s newest album, PAX AM Days, came as a bit of a shock to the music world. When a band puts out a greatest hits album in 2009, it is not expected that it produce another in 2013, let alone two.
Quite frankly, I wish it hadn’t tried. Fall Out Boy really didn’t achieve anything with either of its 2013 albums — Save Rock and Roll came out earlier this year — and only a few songs were memorable.
PAX AM Days is even strange in its construction: It consists of eight songs, only one of which is more than two minutes. The entire album was meant to be an extended EP, and it was put together in a brief two days. This quick production shows; it feels rough, even for the genre. With songs so short and with a harsh sound that drowns at any trace of a melody, it’s not totally outlandish to assume that the band just had nothing left to say, especially when you give the songs a listen.
The first song on the album, “We Were Doomed From The Start,” is meant as an introduction to the album, but if this is Fall Out Boy’s idea of a good first impression, it’s no wonder that the rest of the album was such a failure. There’s some rustling, some predatory-sounding conversation and some screaming. It ends in 1 and 35 seconds and leaves the listener wondering where the action was. It’s over before it even begins, and what can actually be heard is just a cacophony of random sounds.
A few songs in is “Hot to the Touch, Cold on the Inside,” an anthem requisite to every punk-rock release. It has all the fundamental parts of this album stable, but somehow it just doesn’t add up to something that works. There’s an angsty lead singer, lots of chanting and lots of bass. Still, it’s too short and too spiteful to garner more than fleeting interest. It’s missing the genuine edginess that gives these songs a supportive fan base, especially when compared to similar songs of the same genre such as Simple Plan’s “When I’m Gone” or even some of Fall Out Boy’s own previous music such as “Thnks fr th Mmrs” and “Dance, Dance.”
“Love, Sex, Death” is the culmination of the band’s collective Freudian thoughts. The lyrics are unimaginative and repetitive, and the music sounds just like every other song on the album: loud and angry. If the band is to be believed that PAX AM Days is a cathartic release of personal demons rather than an official album, then it has accomplished its goal; I feel demonized and a little let down. Fall Out Boy was the band of my middle school years. We all remember fist pumping at awkward school dances to “Sugar, We’re Going Down Swinging.” Now, even my fond thoughts of those days are tarnished.
The biggest disappointment of the album is “Eternal Summer.” There is no question here — “Eternal Summer” continues in the trend established by the rest of the album and has a tune consisting mostly of noise. The lyrics are largely meaningless and rude, but the most shocking part is the screamo-likeintensity with which Patrick Stump sings.
The only bright spot of the whole album is “Caffeine Cold.” It has the vocals and fast melodies of the Fall Out Boy our younger selves knew and loved, and it’s even of radio-appropriate length.
When put to the test, only one of PAX AM Days’ eight tracks is even worth listening to. Fans of Fall Out Boy and Simple Plan, don’t disappoint yourself with this album and instead stick to the classics.