Chris Loves Music!
This Time, it's...
Fucked Up - David Comes to Life
You've got to love bands with ambition.
Toronto's Fucked Up are know for - well, they're known for calling themselves Fucked Up, but there's a lot more to this band than the attention-seeking title. You might call them a hardcore band, as long as your definition of "hardcore" falls somewhere between Black Flag and Hüsker Dü.
On David Comes to Life what they're actually evocative of is Britain's best punk of the 70's and 80's married with the grand scope of arena-rock concept albums like The Who's Tommy.
Yeah, it's a concept record, albeit a disarmingly simple one: a young lightbulb factory worker named David meets and falls in love with Veronica, an activist who dies in an unexplained explosion at the end of the fist act, and somehow he is accused of causing the explosion. He then goes on an existential journey into the self to explore the meaning (and the necessity) of loss and the transformative power of love. Or y'know, something like that.
seriously, how good is that female vocal part?
The album's biggest victory is it's ability to pair it's darkest moments thematically with it's most brilliant and uplifting songs. On the track "Turn the Season" Veronica dies, but you've got this guitar lick that swings up and down the fretboard and up-tempo, almost grooving drums. The album's standout, "A Little Death" does this best. The whole song is shamelessly pop, but it's when the final crescendo - growing from a circular guitar line, the return of these distant choral chants, and drums that start big and splashy but soon contract into a tight snare roll - finally bursts and all you want to do is yell along "I'm better off, it was too much, / A little death, from every touch. / I had to run, I had to leave, / I'm dead inside, but I can't breathe," and not in a mopey, alone-together sort of way, but in ecstatic celebration.
It's a dark record, but like the best pop, it's fraught with tension. The three guitars often sound like 30, and the punk-to-the-bone barking of the lead singer is complemented superbly by the tuneful female vocals. The juxtaposition of emphatic pop melodies with overtly nihilistic lyrics, all wrapped up in the blood-covered intensity of the best hardcore punk is what really makes this an album that must be listened to.
Defying easy categorization, David Comes to Life is pushing the boundaries of not just hardcore and punk, but rock and roll and pop. Come to think of it, suddenly "ambitious" doesn't seem a strong enough word word to do them justice.