Reviews Fucked Up The Chemistry of Common Life

Fucked Up

The Chemistry of Common Life

In Fucked Up’s early years, they only released songs on seven-inch records, two songs at time, sometimes three, very rarely four or more. Songs during the fifties and sixties were released in a similar fashion, the jukebox single on the a-side with one or two more on the back. Songs rarely exceeded the four-minute mark due to the space constraints of vinyl, a typical seven inch record holding no more than fifteen minutes of music, short enough to keep you from getting bored. Albums were rare. For the members of Fucked Up, they simply weren’t an option; a conscious choice for several reasons. Part was an homage to the old punk singles of the seventies and eighties: short, fast, pissed and to the point, but they also wanted to annoy fans, weed out the poseurs, and drive record collectors crazy.

So from 2002 onward came a litany of releases with varying colors, artwork, and other minute details that only a collector would obsess about. Then there were the records with songs etched in-between the grooves of the first song, records that played form the inside out, single songs played over the course of both a record’s sides. What ever keeps it interesting was the band’s creed.

But even this ended up becoming banal. They were going for something bigger, something longer. Eventually the band started churning out twelve-inch singles with one song pushing close to twenty minutes. It was a paradox; both the antithesis and true embodiment of what punk should me. Not since Flipper had a band attempted to alienate their fan base in the way Fucked up has done and continues to do. Surely enough they eventually released their first LP, an epic seventy-two minute album with string section interludes, nine minutes epics, and two minutes blasts of anger. They confused everyone including themselves, all while reinventing their rules and reshaping the concept of punk not done since the days of Black Flag.

Which brings us to the release of their second LP, The Chemistry of Common Life. In the minds of Fucked Up, punk is an aesthetic; an art form with a genesis rooted in the arrangement of three or four chords as fast one could. This is how the opener “Son the Father” unfolds, beginning with a short fife melody and expanding into a simple riff sounding bigger than a song by The Who layering three guitars, something rather unheard of unless in punk. The lyrics go a little deeper than hating your jobs, parents, and the police, posing philosophical and rhetorical questions that your likely to find in an epistemology class.

Now embraced by readers of Pitchfork Media and Vice as well as shoppers of American Apparel, Fucked Up has redefined their style to something best described as an art school influence. They’ve done away with the string sections and substituted them for keyboard parts and electronic programming underneath layered guitars. Three guitars to be exact, which make them the Iron Maiden of Punk and perhaps the innovators of NWOCP, the New Wave of Canadian Punk.

While their aim is admirable, the execution is long-winded and choppy, leaving the album to waver on the whole. Many of the songs are unbelievably good, Radiohead good, sounding like an entirely different band from their inception. “Black Albino Bones”, sounds like it could be a radio single if they band hadn’t damned themselves with a profane moniker. The melody and back-up vocals are as catchy as top 40 radio hit. Sync that with vocalist Damian’s throaty scream and you have something truly unique. Unfortunately they try the same thing on the next track, “Royal Swan,” this time doubling the lead vocals while an almost operatic singer belts out while the guitars and drums gradually build up only to resolve into distorted noise. While the intention is to give the song a grandiose sound, it comes off as kitschy, making art simply for art’s sake.

“Twice Born” comes off as the album’s angriest track, moving with Negative Approach style riffs that become ever brooding as the song plays out. With accompanying vocals, it has a raw, unpolished feel like the vocals of Le Tigre or The Locust. Note the art influence.

The trouble though is that these amazing songs are sandwiched between others with a similar formula but with less potency. It’s basic riffs played at medium pace, over and over. At times it’s hypnotic and entrancing, but a lot of it feels like it’s dragging. Add this to moments of electronic programming and staccato instrumentation in the hopes of sounding avant-garde, and it sounds more like filler to push the album to an “epic” length. Sex Positions, another punk/hardcore took the same approach but with brevity, making it more palatable.

While Fucked Up seems to release a new seven-inch or twelve inch every other month, they have yet to properly release a ten-inch. (There are bootlegs of “Since You’ve Been Gone” floating around.) If the band cut half the songs on this album and pressed them on a ten inch they’d have a damn near perfect album that still challenges everything about punk and questions the chemistry of common life.

7.8 / 10Scottie
Advertisement
KFAI - Roar of the Underground
Leave a comment

Matador

2008

7.8 / 10

7.8 / 10

Share this content
Related features

Music Fun Fun Fun Fest 2015

Posted Nov. 22, 2015, 3:24 p.m.

In the days leading up to the three-day Fun Fun Fun Fest, weather forecasters were calling for yet another weekend of torrential rain in and ...

Interviews Fucked Up / Wire: Beacons Festival 2013

Posted Oct. 19, 2013, 7:41 p.m.

After our pre-festival coverage of Beacons 2013, we spoke to a couple of the headliners: Fucked Up and Wire. Read on for more from both ...

Advertisement
KFAI - Root Of All Evil
More by Fucked Up

Fucked Up

Glass Boys

8.7 / 10 Fucked Up - Glass Boys album cover

Even though I’ve listened to some of their material, I hadn't really plunged deep into Fucked Up-mania. It wasn’t until I checked out their new song “Paper The House” that I ...

Fucked Up

David Comes To Life

8.0 / 10 Fucked Up - David Comes To Life album cover

It was one of the most anticipated albums of the year, and was welcomed with such positive reception. Needless to say, my expectations were high. Chemistry of Common Life was ...

Fucked Up

Year of the Pig (Reissue)

4.7 / 10 Fucked Up - Year of the Pig (Reissue) album cover
200 Words Or Less

A re-release of an EP that came out last year from this overrated punk band from Canada that someone inked a deal with indie's scared cow of a label, Matador ...

Related news

Bands Fucked Up Release Video and Track, "Normal People"

Posted Aug. 16, 2018, 3:30 a.m.

Fucked Up have released a music video for their new track, "Normal People," from their upcoming album, Dose Your Dreams. The new record will be released via their new home ...

Records New Fucked Up 7-inch in June

Posted May 17, 2018, 7:30 p.m.

Canadian punks Fucked up will release a limited edition 7" next month on Tankcrimes. Titled High Rise and set for release on June 15, the two-song short-play record contains two ...

Records Fucked Up's Zodiac series continues

Posted Feb. 8, 2017, 9:38 p.m.

It's a new year and a new installment to Fucked Up's Zodiac Series. On March 24, the band will release volume eight, titled Year of the Snake (Tankcrimes ...

x

Logo

Looking for the SPB logo? You can download it in a range of styles and colours here:

Click anywhere outside this dialog to close it, or press escape.