*** (out of four)
Veteran Fall Out Boy fans know that the band wasn’t always the (awesomely catchy, vocally fantastic) radio-ready pop-rock band heard on this year’s excellent, hiatus-ending “Save Rock and Roll.” A decade or so ago they were barreling around the Chicago area—and the rest of the country, building a fanbase—with harder-hitting songs reflecting a shared love of punk.
It’s mildly amusing that the double-disc re-issue of “SR&R” will feature “Pax-Am Days,” a new, 8-song collection of ‘80s-leaning punk tunes that Ryan Adams produced and that FOB steamrolls through in under 14 minutes. Does the band think its least-rocking album needs a sidekick to remind everyone of the early days? You know what? Who cares? “Pax-Am Days” may not necessarily capture the local chart-toppers doing what they do best—I admit a personal and passionate bias here toward the group’s hook-driven material (yes, including “Take This to Your Grave”), which obviously isn’t what punk’s all about—but it contains the authentic forward motion of musicians with versatile abilities.
In fact, the quality of singer Patrick Stump’s voice, which theoretically doesn’t match pummeling music like this, makes the material more interesting. Highlighted by the playful “Demigods” and the alternately warm and angry “Hot to the Touch, Cold on the Inside,” “Pax-Am Days” injects much-needed feeling into a genre that sometimes offers only compressed aggression. “I just want my childhood back,” cries Stump on “American Made.” “I just want my childhood dead.”
Only “Eternal Summer” irritates and makes you wish the short song were over before it actually ends. Several others you wish went on longer--the better to absorb what’s working. In other words: It’s good to hear FOB continuing to do whatever they feel like and proving that they do it well.
In concert: Nov. 29 at Metro
Watch Matt on “You & Me This Morning,” Friday at 6:55 a.m. on WCIU, the U
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