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Album Review: Fall Out Boy- “Pax-Am Days” ★★★

"Pax-Am Days" provides a mixed bag ranging from the very good to the repulsively bad.

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Back from their four year hiatus, Chicago based emo-pop/ pop-punk band, Fall Out Boy, follows their comeback album, Save Rock and Roll, with loud and fast-paced Pax-Am Days. This 13 minute eight-track EP is lively, dramatic, and slightly chaotic. The album, following more closely the hardcore rules of punk than any of the band’s other albums, seems to contradict with lead singer Patrick Stump’s powerful, soulful voice, creating a sound that is uniquely Fall Out Boy.

All formalities aside, there is a reason Fall Out Boy has the word “pop” attached to their genre. They just weren’t cut out for the punk life. When people buy a Fall Out Boy album, they’ve come to expect catchy hooks, powerful vocals, and exciting dynamics. Even when the band does go for a more “hardcore” sound, there’s still a melodic element that’s pleasing to the ear. That being said, listening to Pax-Am Days was extremely confusing. From the beginning when the band kicks things off with “We Were Doomed From the Start,” the listener can’t help but think it was aptly named.

The album is all over the place and, as a general statement, hard to follow. First of all, in the majority of the tracks, it sounds like Patrick Stump is screaming lyrics, leaving the listener to try and decipher his shrieks. Then, after all of this yelling, Stump tries to go into his usual soulful runs and it just doesn’t work. This is almost as disappointing as the tracks that are entirely composed of Stump yelling or speaking and dragging out the last syllable. A fantastic example of this monumental disappointment is “Eternal Summer.” At that point in the album the listener starts to wonder if Fall Out Boy was generous enough to include any pain killers with the album.

To be fair, the album does have its redeeming points, little nuggets of sanity placed in the midst of all the chaos that make Pax-Am Days a decent album. “Hot to the Touch, Cold on the Inside,” and “Art of Keeping Up Disappearances,” aside from being a tad repetitive, are actually a solid songs. They provide refuge from like “Demigods” and keep the hope for the success of Pax-Am Days alive.

Thankfully, the album ends on a positive note with “American Made” and “Caffeine Cold.” By the end of the album, the listener has no idea what to expect and when “American Made” starts, they’re ready for disaster. However, the track is surprisingly delightful. Something about the ardor with which Stump sings the words “I just want my childhood back” makes the listener nostalgic for the days when things were a simpler. Stump’s voice creates a sort of warm, angry sincerity that contributes to the compelling sound that sets Fall Out Boy apart from other bands. “Caffeine Cold” closes the album and assures the listener Fall Out Boy hasn’t lost their touch. With its upbeat guitars and powerful vocals, “Caffeine Cold” makes the listener want to dance or at least bob their head. It’s a full minute longer than the other songs on Pax-Am Days, presumably to help the listener forget the less enjoyable tracks on the album.

While Fall Out Boy’s willingness to explore new sounds is admirable, hopefully, for the sake of the band and its fan base, Pax-Am Days does not foreshadow the band’s future.

Final Judgment*: ★★★

The total score comes down to 2 songs that are just okay, 2 songs that are fabulous, 2 songs that leave you extremely confused, and 2 songs that kind of make you regret having ears. My advice is to save yourself the trouble and just get the songs you like from iTunes.

American Made:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hrXcYPcTJsw&list=PLY-pRvLaJgPnARpRFDGhYEmGZv2Ud-5Nd

Caffeine Cold:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xSJb2GNKhWw&list=PLY-pRvLaJgPnARpRFDGhYEmGZv2Ud-5Nd

Eternal Summer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vCwJrATiRww&list=PLY-pRvLaJgPnARpRFDGhYEmGZv2Ud-5Nda

 

*The Kilt uses a 5-star rating system for music reviews. 

 

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