“PAX AM Days” is not a new Fall Out Boy album. Just 13 minutes long, “PAX AM Days” is an experimental, spur-of-the-moment punk-inspired EP that has nothing to do with the band’s most recent release “Save Rock and Roll,” from this past spring.
Fall Out Boy recorded the EP over a span of two days with singer/songwriter Ryan Adams, who also produced it. Although these tracks are featured on a new special edition two-CD version of “Save Rock and Roll,” if you were looking for the Fall Out Boy of “Save Rock and Roll” on this new EP, you won’t find it.
The songs on this album are all so short that it’s hard to get a handle on them. The longest, “Caffeine Cold,” clocks in at two minutes and 42 seconds, which is still short by anyone’s standards, and the shortest, “Art of Keeping up Disappearances,” is just one minute and three seconds. It is definitely not Fall Out Boy’s norm and it’s immediately off-putting.
That unsettling unfamiliarity seems to be the case with most aspects of this EP. The music doesn’t sound quite like Fall Out Boy, the singing doesn’t sound quite like Patrick Stump, and all the enunciation Stump finally achieved in “Save Rock and Roll” is nowhere to be heard, so it’s hard to tell without looking them up if the lyrics are anything like Fall Out Boy.
The most Fall Out Boy-esque thing on “PAX AM Days” is the song titles. “Art of Keeping up Disappearances” is a classic Pete Wentz play-on-words, as is “Caffeine Cold,” and “Hot To the Touch, Cold On the Inside,” which is the song that will probably be the best-received by long-time Fall Out Boy fans.
“Hot To the Touch, Cold On the Inside” is just one minute and 25 seconds long. The opening, where Stump sings, “They’ve got us surrounded, we’re in their sights, but / they’re not taking us alive / Hot to the touch, cold on the inside, but / They’re not taking us alive,” becomes the chorus and is the moment most reminiscent of Fall Out Boy on the EP. Stump finally gets a chance to sing without the harsh instruments drowning him out, but by the time the first verse comes around, the song follows the same pattern as the others on the EP: Stump tries to scream along to a part that should rightly have been done by Wentz and his voice is lost in music that doesn’t fit it.
The first track, “We Were Doomed From the Start (The King is Dead),” begins with a husky man’s voice asking, “Hey darling, know any bands for my, play my party?” A girl responds, “Um, I don’t know, how about… Fall Out Boy?” Drumsticks click, the song begins… and then it goes nowhere. “The king is dead / long live the king,” is repeated over and over throughout the track, Stump mumbles through some hardcore-sounding verses, and in the chorus his voice tries to branch out and play with complicated scales he’s used to, but the nature of the song doesn’t allow him to.
The following track, “Art of Keeping Up Disappearances,” seems like it should be part of “The King is Dead” The chorus is almost exactly the same, only “The king is dead / long live the king” has been replaced with “The art, the art / of keeping up disappearances.” Again, the song begins and then ends, but doesn’t do much in between. The same can be said for the EP itself: it begins and ends, and the listener is left wondering what the point was.
“PAX AM Days” refers to Ryan Adams’ record label, Pax Americana Recording Company, and the two days that it was recorded in. The title of the EP tells a Fall Out Boy fan everything he or she needs to know before deciding whether or not to listen to it. As an exercise in attempting to record some decent songs in a very short time period, it’s a pretty impressive effort by the band. But standing alone as a new release by Fall Out Boy, “PAX AM Days” isn’t worth listening to, not when compared to all of its previous work. A better use of that 13 minutes would be to listen to “Young Volcanoes” four times in a row.