Yeah they are, but in a good way
In some ways, you get exactly what you expect from a band named Fucked Up. In others, complete surprises. On the side of the former, you could safely plan for fierce aggression hitting with the blunt force of a freight train and vocal stylings that could best be described as throat-shredding screams. Check and check. The aforementioned surprises? They’re in the details – intros and outros featuring sound bytes of a thoughtful anti-Fascism speech and monastic chanting, and lyrics that frequently reflect a level of literacy one might sooner expect from The Decemberists, not hardcore punks. Well, maybe Canadian punks. The best way to experience all sides of Fucked Up is Couple Tracks: Singles 2002 – 2009, a career-spanning collection of songs that presents a well-rounded perspective of the band’s catalog.
Divided into two discs, The Hard Stuff and The Fun Stuff, Couple Tracks is randomly arranged, seemingly avoiding any chronology or progressing theme. All the songs are hard stuff and for the most part, fun. Disc Two generally has a more lighthearted attitude (“Anorak City,” “I Hate Summer,” “He’s So Frisky”), though you’ll still encounter lyrics like “Post-modern sycophants splice together new genes / Ignorant of the irony creating wholes from incompletes.”
The songs are generally all the same tempo and played with equal intensity. However, a few key tracks manage to stand out from the mayhem. From The Hard Stuff, the first track “No Pasaran” rallies for revolution against an unknown oppressor; “Ban Violins” brings a bouncy fun and the terrific bridge “reverse the compass to get where we came / soothsayers’ almanac predicts a growing disdain;” and “Triumph of Life” is a life-affirming survivalist anthem with a drama-inducing intro.
Toward the end of The Fun Stuff, the band stretches its style to adopt a more traditional rock sound on “David Comes to Life,” an art-rock vibe for “Last Man Standing,” and best of all, on “Magic Word,” classic rock riffs start off before the song moves into 60s psychedelic territory as echoing vocals get more and more indiscernible.
Couple Tracks serves as a solid introduction for the casual listener, and for those already familiar, a readymade mix.