Fucked Up - Glass Boys
After the widescreen genre triumph of 2011's David Comes To Life concept album, there was perhaps an inevitability that Canada's Fucked Up would pull back a little for the follow up. What emerges are ten tracks that don't quite hit the sonic heights of their predecessors, yet which consolidate their position as one of the most thoughtful acts working on the alt.rock/hardcore scene.
While David ... spun a Shakespearean web of love, treachery and redemption, Glass Boys is more inward looking, picking over the paradoxes of making hardcore music in 2014; in some respects, this is Fucked Up's mid-life crisis album, asking 'What the hell am I doing?' So while they give thanks for the opportunities music has given them ("I'm the reflection of the dream I had when I was 15" - 'Echo Boomer') there's still time to wrestle with that age-old punk dilemma of selling out ("But is it so bad? Is it as dark as it seems? To trade a little purity to prolong the dream?" - 'The Art Of Patrons') and the adult realities of needing to keep putting tofu on your kid's plate.
This could just be navel-gazing, but set against an industry where younger acts bleat about financial security, and where commercial shilling is seen as the norm, it's re-assuring that such principles haven't fallen off the agenda completely. And it's not as if FU are completely down on the kids: 'Touch Stone''s "We’re the same in a different time. You can take it, isn’t mine" is about handing over the baton to a new breed, bands with the energy - and fewer responsibilities - to keep the flame alive.
Tighter and more concise than their last two albums, the occasional snatch of acoustic guitar and organ further broaden the musical palette and, ironically, the title track is as near Fucked Up have come to a full-blown arena-friendly anthem, meaning those questions about where they fit are unlikely to go away any time soon.