Fucked Up - The Chemistry Of Common Life
Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?
The sound of the primal rock n' roll voice sneering down a microphone has terrified audiences for many decades now. Elvis, Iggy, Hendrix, Rotten, Cobain, Daphne & Celeste. All voices of true Generation Terrorists. I knew little about Canada's Fucked Up (unlike getting fucked up, but that's not for here) except that none-more-punk band name and their promo pics of a large half naked man covered in blood. God gave Rock n' Roll to you kids. Gee thanks, and for God's sake wipe your feet I'm not hoovering this carpet again today.
Well things starts off nicely enough with a massage of James Galway flute loveliness, but don't get comfortable! All of the tracks do the “Look at the fluffy bunny, Oh no, Run!, it's a Lion” trick before King Tubby turns up and it's heads down Moshi Moshi. Yes folks it's 11 rounds of corporal slam-dancing from start to finish, so don't bring your slippers. Now drop and gimme five.
There are a few occasions when all this white noise can be quite exhilarating and adrenalin fuelled. Days Of Last for example surfs a tsunami like Metallica's One covered by an '87 Guns 'N' Roses. Crooked Heads guitar solo does almost approach lift-off too. BUT (and it's a big butt) it rapidly becomes unlistenable for me due to Damian Abraham's (aka Pink Eyes, ha-not-very-ha) hilariously OTT Death-Metal voice. For reference, it's Mike Patton's exorcism voice sans the style or humour.
The band themselves are clearly talented musicians and the playing is at times impressive. Just check out the funky drummer rolling into Crooked Head or some of the furious guitar work on the title track. It does however sound like the poor musicians would rather be in a nice, polite, classic rock n' roll band but are kept on a tight studded leash by their militant dictator, the evil Pink Eye. DAT! DAH! DAH!!!. “Muhhahaha. I will rule the world with my bellowing. Now guards take me back to my underground layer, you know the one, in the hollowed out volcano”.
Strip away the comedy 'this one goes to 11' vocal and Crooked Head would pass for the early snarl of Oasis, whilst No Epiphany could fake it full-time as AC/DC on mushrooms. I don't want Mariah Carey but I don't want someone shouting at me from inside a portaloo either.
I've said it before but a man shouting? Well you're just gonna close the door. Real power is in a whisper. It's so relentlessly LOUD that by track 4 it's completely lost its power to shock or move (except move your eyes to your watch. It's almost a Jedi mind trick for doing that).
No surprise then that for me the highlights are the two instrumentals, Golden Seal and Looking for God, which remind me alternately of Mogwai and Nine Inch Nails with their entertaining and atmospheric sense of ominous doom.
For a band pimped as 'experimental hardcore' I was expecting something a little more colourful, maybe At The Drive-In on steroids? Putting a couple of flutes and bongos on the start of the songs is only experimental if you're Noel Gallagher or Keane. Black Albino Bones is basically Lostprophets accompanied by the sound of a man gargling Listerine. In a bad mood, obviously. Grrr.
Reading up on the band (see I don't just make this crap up),I was intrigued by their vocal interests in politics and desire for the album to work as an “epic about the mysteries of birth, death and the origins of life”. High ambitions indeed, so it's a shame most of their message is lost in translation with the whole thing ultimately collapsing into sub-Spinal Tap guff about "extinguishing fires". The almost prog Royal Swan sounds like it's born to be performed with midgets in capes riverdancin' around a 12” replica of Stonehenge. Hell if it doesn't all drag on too, I thought this punk stuff was supposed to be hit 'n' run 90 seconds long?
Rock 'N' Roll for me is a travelling circus for degenerates, misfits and freaks. That's why I bought the ticket. But I ain't buying this. It's all smoke and mirrors and 'one louder'. I want 4 Real. Despite a pretty rockin' backing band, it's ultimately just the sound of a grown man crying for his Mummy. Some of us remember Andrew W.K., the ex-NME darling who this all immediately reminded me of. Even after the therapy and EST, I still remember. Never let it happen again.
I suffer so you don't have to dear readers but I'm sorry Fucked Up, my time's up. The big hand says 'Fuck' and the little hand says 'Off'. Nice sleeve though.