October sees the release of the band’s second album, The Chemistry of Common Life on Matador Records, which the band describes as “an expansive epic about the mysteries of birth, death, and the origins of life (and re-living)."
From the get-go, it’s clear that Fucked Up are making the most of their new label’s recording budget. Opening track 'Son the Father' features a flute, bongos, some synth and lots of guitar tracks. Lots and lots of guitar tracks. It also features some questionable, overly sassy backing vocals, which reappear at the end of the record. It seems that Fucked Up are trying to avoid falling back on their standard hardcore sound, almost as if they’re trying to distance themselves from it or prove that they’re not limited by it, which is understandable considering how long they’ve been together and what Year Of The Pig sounded like.
One of the problems with hardcore records, and especially the “classic” hardcore records, is that they all suffer from poor recording and production. More often then not, it’s hard to reproduce the intensity of a live band on record, making the band sound flat or lifeless when in reality they’re anything but. Oddly, The Chemistry of Common Life almost suffers from being too well produced; there seems to be so many guitar tracks and additional overdubs that it creates a dirge like effect at points, notably on 'Days of Last.' It’s kind of similar to the approach that Oasis or any number of bands in the mid to late 90s; too much coke in the control room perhaps. If you think the Oasis comparison is weird, 'Crooked Head' sounds like 'Rings Around the World' by Super Furry Animals.
The second half of this record lags a bit; it’s not until 'Twice Born' that it picks up again. Of all the songs, this is probably the one most reminiscent of Hidden World. It’s your standard Fucked Up affair – Poison Idea-style hardcore with a bit too much compression. It also marks the reappearance of the female backing vocals from the beginning of the album – they provide a sassy response to Damian’s call of “hands up if you think you’re the only one.” Whilst it veers a little close to sounding like the guy from Blood Brothers, it still ranks as one of the stand out tracks.
Despite being a whole twenty minutes shorter then their debut, The Chemistry of Common Life still seems too long. A lot of it comes across as wholly unremarkable and passes by without really doing anything, and in doing so it high lights the problem with Fucked Up – they’re just not that good. Undeniably, they are a great live band; however, on record, and especially on this record, they fail to do anything to elevate themselves from being an above average band to an amazing one. If you get the chance, and you probably will considering their touring schedule, go and see them live. If maybe a cliché, but they really are better live.
EDIT: I forgot to mention that there's a big shoegaze influence on this record. Lots of swooshing guitars. An abundance of wah, if you will.
Fucked Up - Son the Father
(click on the icon to play the song)