Not Their Best Year
Fucked Up has consistently been one of the most prolific and innovative bands in punk for the nearly 15 years they’ve been a band. While they have only produced a handful of full length records, their list of singles and EPs is endless and every one of them has made an impact in the evolution of post hardcore. Among these singles has been a Zodiac Series, each named after an animal of the Chinese Zodiac. Their newest release, Year of the Hare, is the seventh in this series, following shortly after 2014’s Year of the Dragon. While on its own, Year of the Hare is a solid two-song single record, compared to Year of the Dragon, which was a thrilling opus from start to finish, it doesn’t quite stand up.
It’s very clear that Fucked Up is trying to do something different with this release. Listeners know what to expect from them, even as they’ve matured from their younger, wilder selves to that more serious, melodic side that has been heard in releases like David Comes to Life. With Year of the Hare it’s obvious they want to shake things up, but it’s a little too obvious. The main track on the album, the 21 minute long title track, starts with over a minute of the faintest noise.
Soon an acoustic guitar comes through, periodically shaken up by glitches and flashes of a heavier punk song. By the six minute mark, listeners find themselves hearing a solo piano while a Fucked Up show rages on in the background, building intensity until the real song hits. But the song that comes through is too much of a predictable Fucked Up track to justify all the weirdness in the beginning. The highlight on the song comes in 12 minutes, when we hear the gorgeous voice of guest vocalist Isla Craig, a singer from the band’s hometown of Toronto. The song ends in the same place that it started; leaving you wishing they’d done something more.
The B-side on Year of the Hare, “California Cold,” is actually more interesting than the title track, something not too common on the Zodiac singles. It’s a moody, heavy, straightforward Fucked Up song that doesn’t try to be anything that it’s not and will likely stick out in listeners’ heads more than anything else.
But as with sex and pizza, even the least remarkable Fucked Up album is better than none, and likely better than most other post hardcore coming out at the same time. It’s definitely still worth a spin or ten.