Music Reviews
The Chemistry Of Common Life

Fucked Up The Chemistry Of Common Life

(Matador) Rating - 8/10

I wonder what the group meeting was like when Fucked Up, punk rock sextet from the mean streets of Toronto (wha?), unanimously agreed upon their profane title.  Were there questions like, “What could we do to earn our youngest fans an ass whipping from their parents?” or “How do we generate interest in our band before anyone’s even heard us play?”  It grabs your attention for sure, but I guess it’s not all that shocking having had bands like The Crucifucks pushing the decency envelope long before these guys may have even been born.  But, there is something satisfying about a name as unflinchingly unapologetic and staunch.  There it is: Fucked Up.  Who can argue?

Fucked Up isn’t that fucked up, though.  At least, not on The Chemistry Of Common Life, the band’s latest LP.  Emerging from the schools of 80s hardcore and post-hardcore, the snarling Fucked Up are an angry and energetic bunch that preaches the familiar arguments against religion, against society, against parents, over a usually anthemic and enlivening rally cry.  “Hands up if you think you’re the only one,” singer Pink Eyes growls on Twice Born, calling for his people (kids, most likely) to chip in and share in the angst (kids that are probably grounded for being into Fucked Up). 

But, despite Fucked Up clinging to some of the more overdone aspects of their genre, the band has an interesting perspective on how their music should sound.  Never mind the expected crazy growl of their lead singer, but instead focus on lush and beautifully harmonized vocal backdrops (No Epiphany), Art Of Noise-inspired instrumentals (Golden Seal) and even what sounds like a variation on an Animals bassline (parts of Crooked Head remind me of We Gotta Get Out Of This Place.) 

Beginning with hyper guitar and howling static, Son The Father, launches the album into its first fast-paced rhetorical question, “So, what’s the point of ever being born again?”  Confusing the bare-bones rawness of the album’s opener, Magic Word goes tribal and bass heavy, vocalist Pink Eyes sliding off rhythm for his delivery.  Days Of Last starts off typically enough but then transitions into a growing whine for the verses while the drumming goes into epileptic fits of snare rolls and cymbals slams.  Royal Swan is a sporadic hailstorm of percussion and guitar, juxtaposing some gorgeous singing with Pink Eye’s howl.  The album’s title track is heavily energized and well-played, ending the album on a high note for lack of a better term.  

The only instances where The Chemistry Of Common Life stays relatively tame, is with the somewhat Jiffy-popped punk of Black Albino Bones and the dull instrumental, Looking For God.  Otherwise, the album takes a lot of interesting turns, offering a new take on the genre’s possibilities and how its mission statement can be conveyed.

Whatever shortcomings The Chemistry Of Common Life present, and there are very few, Fucked Up cancels them out with some imagination and a refusal to so easily fit into the Mallternative crowd.  Yes, their enemies are nothing new, but they tackle them with an artistically realized fury and, from what I understand, a live act that resembles the notoriousness of GG Allin.  Whether or not they wind up being as legendary as their heroes remain to be seen, but at least they’re trying.  As punk rock goes these days, The Chemistry Of Common Life is a step in the right direction.