The sound of Fucked Up can be summed up by contemplating their front man 'Pink Eyes'. Imagine a large, sweating, shirtless man with copious amounts of body and facial hair running at you screaming and growling. How do you feel? Maybe a little intimidated, definitely exhilarated, and even possibly slightly aroused. These are certainly the emotions that come to the fore when I hear the thrilling mixture of 80's hardcore punk and melodic art-rock squall on 'David Comes to Life'.
People will often tell you that no-one cares about the album format anymore, that it’s been killed by the internet and the quick fix download culture, but this certainly can't be leveled at Fucked Up. In 'David Comes to Life they have fashioned a sprawling Rock Opera in four parts concerning a tragic love affair between the main protagonists David and Veronica. You by no means have to invest in the story to enjoy the album, and due to Pink Eyes almost unvarying delivery of the lyrics in a fierce guttural yell, the plot can sometimes be impenetrable, but if you're interested, the lyrics can be found here (they're not Goethe or Shakespeare but are certainly ambitious and worth a look).
After the opening, relatively sedate, chiming guitars and gentle feedback of instrumental 'Let her Rest' the pattern of the album is set by the rollicking 'Queen of Hearts'. The pounding rhythm section forms the foundation for the towering wall of sound on which Pink Eyes fierce vocals sit. These vocals are really the only harsh and abrasive thing about the bands style and they are balanced perfectly by the interplay between the three guitarists (10,000 Marbles, Gulag and Young Governor). This interplay, coupled with additional guitar overdubs brings the melodic punch and each song is laden with hooks. Guest vocals from Cults singer Madeline Follin and singer songwriter Jennifer Castle (representing the characters of Veronica and Vivian respectively) are scattered throughout the album which also provide a nice counterpoint to the uncompromising voices of David and the apparent narrator Octavio.
The pace doesn't let up after this, an acoustic guitar briefly appears at the start of 'A Slanted Tone' and 'Truth I know' before being dismissively stomped into the ground, but other than that there is no respite. The gloriously euphoric hardcore punk-pop just doesn't stop.
It’s difficult to pick out individual highlights as the songs themselves are so similar in tempo and structure; this is not a criticism by any means, if you can do something this well why deviate from it. The band have refined and perfected this sound and to me this album has the whiff of a classic about it.
The only thing I can imagine turning people off is the sheer size of the work, weighing in at 18 songs and 78 minutes it’s a monster, but it’s definitely worth investing your time and effort into, David and Veronica's story is also compelling if you have the time to dig into and decipher it.
So don't lose patience, the rewards are there for you. 'David Comes to Life' may be destined to take up its rightful place alongside previous punk epics 'London Calling' by the Clash and 'Zen Arcade' by Husker Du, or it may be criminally ignored by a public who are scared of a challenge to their attention spans, but As Pink Eyes bellows on 'Under my Nose' : It’s all been worth it.
Spod Rating: A big Fucked Up Thumbs up
Best time to listen: when riding on the back of a bomb
Worst time to listen: when lulling a newborn baby to sleep