ALBUM OF THE YEAR???
The slow trickle of free downloadable singles from this – Fucked Up’s umpteenth release, third full-length album and first rock opera – suggested a marked change of tack for Toronto’s largest punk export. For a band that have constantly dismantled and rearranged the very fabric of what recorded music should resemble, it’s unsurprising they would further push the limits of what they’re capable of, but a 78 minute rock opera by anyone’s standards is a stretch.
Introduced early to our hero David, we traverse a fictional account of life in Britain during the Thatcher years. With Damian Abraham’s trademark screams muted somewhat, bassist Sandy Miranda’s vocal melodies blur the edges of what has largely institutionalised Fucked Up as a punk outfit. Melded with extended ‘straight’ rock jams, as opposed to the usual thrashing assault, the vocal dynamic bends the paradigm of where exactly their music sits. Guitar parts lock into a steam train of a rhythm from the outset with delicate almost Neil Young-ish lead touches. The effect is more the heaving of pulse and breath than the changeable and often borderline violent passages fans would be accustomed to.
The tempo and overall feel shifts through brackets of songs rather than the individual numbers themselves. They trick and tempt with brutal abandon at times (fourteenth track I Was There is as critical as any previous release), but in holding out from relinquishing the psychosis of their earlier material, they deliver a work that is remarkably listenable and will define this band for years to come. Undoubtedly, given the quality of the record, destined for minor accolades on a path to obscurity, David Comes To Life stands firm as what in a just world what would be heralded as a shining example of what’s within reach for those bold enough to dare.