If you’re into a large shirtless man screaming at you while a great punk band shreds some sonic passion, do I have great news for you! Toronto’s Fucked Up just released their excellent fourth album Glass Boys and they’re playing Seattle Saturday, August 16 at Neumos.
I first encountered Fucked Up when they released The Chemistry of Common Life album in 2008. I was intrigued by their name, and imagined the looks you’d get putting it up on a marquee.
I was impressed with their music as well. I love their brand of punk rock, though I don’t think “punk” describes what they laid down on that album. It was something I hadn’t heard before, like a punk singer ordered a backup band for the night and a loud Indie rock band with an extra anthem rock guitarist showed up instead. The result is melodic guitars and grand orchestration with a sledgehammer vocalist pounding clever lyrics into your eardrum. I ate it up.
Next came the critically acclaimed David Comes to Life in 2011, which the band billed as a “Punk Rock Opera” and, as crazy as that idea sounded, they pulled it off. I wasn’t quite as smitten with this record as I was with Chemistry, but the tracks were good and I liked the story the band’s little opera told.
I have picked up a lot of older material from the band over the years too, and have mixed enthusiasm for the early stuff. It can be pretty rough around the edges and a tough listen at times.
With that promising but inconsistent musical background, I had no idea what to expect from the newest release, Glass Boys. I listened with nervous ears. What I found was something of a coming home party for the band, who revisit the more traditional punk sounds that got them started, only this time with more skill and a more mature sound. For example, there are tons of beautiful layers to the songs, the sonic power found on The Chemistry of Common Life is there and the pictures Damien painted with his storyteller lyrics on David Comes to Life are there too.
Glass Boys opens with “Echo Boomer,” which does have some boom, and will have crowds chanting along to “I’m an echo” with fists in the air. Elsewhere, “Warm Change” might be our first glimpse of F’d Up’s foray into psychedelic noodle rock with the guitar solo ending, but fists will stay in the air for other new anthems “The Art of Patrons” and “Paper the House.” In fact, your arm might actually get pretty tired since there are so many emotionally-charged anthems on Glass Boys. – (8/10)
(Fucked Up play Neumos on August 16 with Tijuana Panthers. Tickets are still available.)