Tracklisting: Echo Boomer / Touch Stone / Sun Glass / The Art Of Patrons / Warm Change / Paper The House / DET / Led By Hand / The Great Divide / Glass Boys
For a band so uncompromisingly monikered as Fucked Up it seems churlish to question punk credentials yet on Glass Boys (the Canadians’ fourth full length) the band seem to do just that of themselves. Recent interviews have seen guitarist/songwriter Mike Haliechuk examine the very nature of what the band has become stating, “you’re not supposed to do it for more than a couple of years” whilst the record itself is littered with references to their younger selves (“I’m the reflection of the dream I had when I was 15″ – “Echo Boomer”) and the contrary position of being a hardcore band who “trade a little purity to prolong the dream” (“The Art Of Patrons”). It’s a line of enquiry every punk rock kid finds themselves pursuing as they get older. Can you maintain the piss and vinegar when you’ve got bills to pay and mouths to feed?
There’s no doubting that post the punk-concept album David Comes To Life, Fucked Up are no longer the band of Hidden World. Musically, lyrically, aesthetically they have matured, expanded and improved (even Pink Eyes’ boisterous vocal delivery has become more nuanced – still predominantly indecipherable, but certainly more “melodic”), but is that selling out? Ian MacKaye (a 50+ year old with a little finger more punk rock than any of us) famously admitted to writing direct and anthemic songs in Fugazi to encourage audience sing-a-longs and even Iggy Pop has licked the corporate popsicle on occasion, most recently on Ke$ha’s “Dirty Love.”
To have passion for what you do, to give a fuck about the message you’re delivering, to constantly strive to push the boundaries of what you can achieve despite the barriers you face, those are punk attributes – the medium means squat. Glass Boys adheres to all these and more. A majestic blast of energy and intensity that will have you punching the air and smiling like a dumbass on every listen.
As has become customary for Fucked Up Glass Boys kicks off in delicate style with the tinkle of toy piano before the full blown assault of a band on the brink of war bombards your senses. It’s not quite as pronounced an opening salvo as the flute intro to “Son The Father” on ‘The Chemistry Of Common Life, but 6 years later the need for shock tactics has evaporated replaced with a full throated confidence more akin to stadium rock than sweaty basements. It’s evident in Pink Eyes’ growly reinterpretation of the chorus to “Come On Eileen” at the opening of “‘Touch Stone,” the almost Pixies-ish indie-ness of “Sun Glass” and in the monolith of a chorus for “‘The Great Divide” that seems to come out of nowhere, screaming to the heavens in ecstasy. Album closer “Glass Boys” even sounds like stadium rock. A big, bold, bolt of bravado that just keeps soaring. It has Glastonbury closer written all over it.
Fuck me though, these aren’t even the best songs….’”The Art Of Patrons” is built around a pulsating rhythm that crashes through about 5 separate choruses all destined to create mosh-pit carnage. “Paper The House” is set to reclaim the term “pop-punk” from the insipid nadir of the late 90s (as if The Bronx had decided to cover Rancid) whilst the legendary J. Mascis pops up on album highlight “Led By Hand” to lend his unique vocal style to a song originally envisaged as a duet between the Dinosaur Jr. frontman and Husker Du’s Bob Mould (it’s every bit as good as that sounds too).
Fucked Up don’t need your affirmations or your approval and Glass Boys is every bit the album they need and should be making. By juxtaposing their own doubts about their place in the “scene” with a musical maturity utterly opposed to a traditional hardcore template, they have succeeded in being simply punk as fuck.
Rating 4.5 out of 5
THIS REVIEW WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON BEARDED GENTLEMEN MUSIC.
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