Album Reveiw: Pax Am Days takes Fall Out Boy back to the roots they almost never had

“When I was younger I couldn’t wait for the days to pass/
Now I know they’ll never last
/ And I just want my childhood back”

-Fall Out Boy, “American Made”, Pax Am Days

All that pop- punk must be taking its toll on Fall Out Boy.  On October 15, they released eight- song EP Pax Am Days.  The whole thing clocks in at 13:19 and the longest song lasts two minutes and forty-two seconds.  The band recorded the EP in forty-eight hours in July 2013, at Pax Am Studios in Hollywood, under producer Ryan Adams.  They recorded on analog tapes.

Adams has produced for Weezer, Willie Nelson, the Counting Crows and Beth Orton, and performed both as a solo act and with The Cardinals, Whiskeytown, The Finger, and Pornography.  He is married to Mandy Moore. FOB recorded with Adams per suggestion of producer Butch Walker, who collaborated with the band for the first time on this year’s “Save Rock and Roll”.

The abum’s cover depicts tennis champion John McEnroe, whom the British press labeled “Yankee Punk” at Wimbledon 1980,  about to smash a racket.fall-out-boy-pax-am-days-2013-1200x1200

McEnroe and Fall Out Boy guitarist Joe Trohman “have been friends for a while”, according to bassist Pete Wentz.   The photograph represents that band’s passion for rock and tennis.

“I love tennis. I love the culture of it. I love the rivalries … how it’s sometimes just you vs. yourself, which is such a good metaphor for life,” Wentz tells MTV.

This record hearkens back to Fall Out Boy and Ryan Adam’s punk- rock influences such as The Misfits, Black Flag, Dag Nasty, and other 80’s and 90’s punk bands.

“It was set up like how we used to practice in [guitarist] Joe [Trohman’s] parents’ attic – in the corner of the room,” Wentz says.   “We played loud and Patrick was singing live vocals, so it was very raw.” (Fuse)

Ironically, Pax Am Days sounds nothing like anything Fall Out Boy has ever recorded.  They might have hardcore punk influences, but FOB’s roots stand a little softer.  Even for a garage band, FOB’s early albums “Night Out With Your Girlfriend” and “Take This To Your Grave” err more on the side of pop.   Fall Out Boy fell into commercial success almost without trying with their third album “From Under The Cork Tree”, and the pop- punk formula has always worked for them.  With Pax Am Days, they play straight up punk.  It sounds like more like bands that influenced it and sounds only a little bit like Fall Out Boy.  One can’t mention the album without mentioning Ryan Adams, because it sounds more like his work than Fall Out Boy’s.

That said, it rocks to hear Fall Out Boy cut loose.  They lose the priss and polish of market expectations in favor of something raw and rowdy.  With  their turbulent past behind them, Fall Out Boy finally deserves a little bit DGAF.  And what’s more punk than that?

Pax Am Days exists as a CD in limited release, digital download, and 7” vinyl, and on a special edition Save Rock and Roll double disc re- issue.  The band plans on releasing a limited edition vinyl for Record Store Day (November 29, 2014).

Find a participating record store near you here.

Digital download here (Apple)

Stream in full here (YouTube)

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