Friday, 21 November 2008

Fucked Up- 'The Chemistry Of Common Life' (7/10/08 Matador)

Who would have thought Fucked Up could get on the cover of NME? Maybe it was cynical, who knows. NME desperately trying to claw back some of their readership as it spills away, or something. Whichever, if people want progressive hardcore, then Fucked Up are seemingly the band to supply it. Destructive and chaotic, an overweight balding frontman, but yet so much more. For one, the album title is based on a 19th century book on narcotics and poisons.

The flute that starts this album on 'Son The Father' does nothing to prepare you for what's to come. Images of a French attic, and a young man pining for his love across the rooftops is soon superseded by the crescendo of guitars. Hardcore riffs appear, and the howl of Pink Eyes screams from the stereo, playing (a very angry) Jesus addressing his daddy. The Evangelists won't be happy with lyrics like these: “the living embodiment of perfect, a reversed Oedipal complex based on power not on the sex.”

The theme is echoed on 'Days Of Last', where Pink Eyes puts the Messiah complex right out there with “Let me re-introduce myself, I am the Son of Man.” The track lives up to its title, crunching riffs over blasting horns adding to a sense of doom that infiltrates the album.

Whether you enjoy Fucked Up or not very much depends on how you feel towards vocals that conjure images of futile teenage rebellion by hiding behind loud music that is supposed to scare the parents. Pink Eyes style is certainly divisive. If you can get past it, however, then joys await you on this record.

The music behind the howl is largely flawless. After the hectic opening salvo, 'Golden Seal' has brass and synths at a languid pace, an instrumental that shows a remarkable breadth of style for an ostensibly hardcore band. Later on, another instrumental 'Looking For God' again supplies some much needed breathing space amongst the noise.

Stadium rock is almost channelled at times on 'Crooked Head', traditional chords layered into the bombast that builds. The reported 70 tracks of instruments can really be felt in the dense treacle feel of the rock out ending. 'No Epiphany' has a similar feel, and could almost be, well, Oasis. Except, you know, good. And not raping Lennon's already sodomised corpse.

The teenage rebellion emerges most clearly on 'Black Albino Bones', where the joys of sex and weed are eulogised. “Squishing flesh together until the magic comes out... Burning plants together until the magic comes out, take it in the inhalate.” Very naughty.

It is one of the rare times that Fucked Up descend to the teenage punk level, with higher concepts, such as those of religion and existence more regularly evoked. These are further expressed in the simple hardcore of 'Twice Born' in lines like “Hands up if you think you are the only one who was left upon the cross like God's only son.”

Album closer 'The Chemistry Of Common Life' sees the riffs at their most triumphant, pounding with a sense of joy hidden until that point, before the flute that started out proceedings makes a brief return. Fucked Up are winners, no doubt.

For a punk band the lyrics remain strong throughout, talking through metaphors, with a poetic bent that the shouting masks. This, their second album, or fiftieth, or whatever, is their best yet, the band's reach extending out of hardcore and grabbing genres here and there like pick and mix. It's a strange beast, but one that shows precisely where music should be heading.

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