Because Pax-Am — recorded in just 48 hours at Ryan Adams’ Hollywood studio, rush-released and currently streaming a week early — is very much a love-letter to Fall Out Boy’s formative days, eight breakneck blasts of late-’80s/early-’90s punk and hardcore that serves as a reminder that, once upon a time, everyone in this band played fast and loose in acts like Arma Angelus and Project Rocket.
From the opening surge of “We Were Doomed From the Start (The King Is Dead)” to the final fade out of “Caffeine Cold” (where Stump rants like a lightweight version of Suicidal Tendencies), Pax-Am blasts by in less than 20 minutes — the longest track clocks in at 2:44 — filled with doomy, detuned guitars, shouted gang vocals and rapidly shifting time signatures. There’s little in the way of studio flourish, or produced hooks, as Adams seems content to get out of the way and just let FOB rip.
And that’s precisely the point. Wentz mentioned Screeching Weasel in an interview with MTV News, and their influence is definitely evident here, but so are the Descendants, Earth Crisis and several other acts of their ilk (strangely, the single “Love, Sex, Death” recalls nothing quite so much as the visceral venting of the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion’s “Identify”). Their new EP is part homage, part deck-clearing catharsis, and all crash-and-bash thrills. You can practically feel them freaking out as they tear through each track, like they can’t believe they’re getting to relive their past, and play the kind of tunes that made them fall in love with music in the first place.
Pax-Am Days certainly isn’t your typical Fall Out Boy release, and while it might just be a stopgap until their next full length, that doesn’t make it any lesser of an experience. Oftentimes, the detours are the best part of the trip.