Time traveling with Fucked Up
It would be difficult to find a more experimental punk band than Fucked Up in today’s music climate. No one arranges their tracks in a more unique manner, experimenting with new instruments, tones and sounds. Their tracks feel like lengthy orchestra epics and they’ve made a career out of this showmanship. Hell, their rock opera David Comes to Life proves this necessity for crafting a narrative within their music. Now, just a year after their last release, Year of the Snake, part of their Chinese New Year’s series, Fucked Up has returned with a full length in the form of Dose Your Dreams.
The record begins with “None of Your Business Man” which starts like a beautifully composed piece of music. Subtle chimes, angel-like voices and piano ring in the introduction before cutting into the climax of punk-infused hardcore. The instrumentals are the highlight here as horns compliment classic guitar solos. These solos feel like a Fucked Up version of an old Titus Andronicus track, but with the classic spin of Damian Abraham’s yelp of a voice.
The next track is “Raise Your Voice Joyce” and it was one of the singles. As one of the only tracks under three minutes, it makes sense that this is one that the band would try to market as a headlining track. It is catchy enough with anthemic punk power chords and a chorus with great backup vocals from Sandy Miranda.
“Normal People” is not a Fucked Up track in theory. It sounds like a song written by well, normal people. The whispering at the beginning is creepy but it turns up into a garage rock, almost Parquet Courts-esque track. The beauty of Fucked Up’s music comes from their versatility to blend, experiment and incorporate influences. The fusion of all these bits and pieces, combined with the punk growl of Damian Abraham, make a beautiful concoction.
“Torch to Light” comes out of left field. There is something trippy and alternative about the whispering female voice ringing over the piano. “House of Keys” is similar in its unique beginning of almost an ‘80s techno sounding intro. But just as most of the tracks on Dose Your Dreams are, they have that commonality of Abraham’s shriek. It is almost as if the voice is traveling decades within the course of the album, visiting different times of music while sticking with a rooted vocal track.
“I Don’t Wanna Live in this World Anymore” could be a risky track to have. A title like that cannot come off as cheesy or pop punk angsty, or else fans are going to cringe at the notion, but here Fucked Up rides the line that works. The song’s notion is in the title, but the music sounds almost motivating. It tells a story about a relationship riddled in pain and maybe even drugs. It climaxes with the voice of Abraham and church choir–yes, a church choir–proclaiming they don’t wanna live in this fucking world anymore. Somehow, after the initial laugh the listener receives from the angelic voices, the track finds its way.
“Mechanical Bull” is almost dubstep in nature. Yes, we’ve arrived in the 2010s of this time machine mess. The fusion of woofed bass and almost African drums that begin lead into a soft-spoken feature vocal. Is this Radiohead, or did this album get off at the wrong stop? This album just gets more and more confusing, yet enjoyable as it goes on. The sounds never tire or get repetitive–that would be impossible for Dose Your Dreams.
“Love Is an Island In the Sea” is a comedown track before the conclusion. It is almost an Animal Collective trip meets an Imogen Heap style ballad. The vocals go up and down almost like show tunes, while not being noticeably cheesy. “Joy Stops Time” is the eight-minute epic conclusion that you can only hope for with an album this aspiring. The combination of guitars, powerful, yet haunting female vocals and hallucinogenic conclusion create one of the better closers in Fucked Up’s discography.
Dose Your Dreams is a masterful composition. In a genre such as punk where things may start to sound like everything else, Fucked Up to put it simply, fucks that all up. In terms of experimentation, this is an easy album of the year candidate, and within that punk world, may very well just be that.