Album Review: Couple Tracks: Singles 2002-2009 by Fucked Up
Very Good, Based on 10 Critics
NOW Magazine - 80 Based on rating 4/5
Most of the non-punk world discovered Toronto hardcore heroes Fucked Up through their award-winning and game-changing 2008 album The Chemistry Of Common Life. As innovative as Chemistry was, it was the effortless way it folds music-critic-friendly influences into the amped-up punk racket that garnered much of the attention. It was unconventional because of how conventionally pop it sounded without completely ditching its hardcore roots.
It’s doubtful that even the most diligent collector has all of Fucked Up‘s material, since the group's seven hand-pressed releases were generally only available as limited editions at select shows or internationally. Couple Tracks: Singles 2002-2009 acts as part two of their previous Epics in Minutes comp, and piles together tracks from the Year of the Pig and Year of the Dog 12" releases, previously unheard outtakes from studio sessions, and rarities from over a dozen 7" records. On this double-CD or double-LP set (with the first disc titled The Hard Stuff and the second named The Fun Stuff), Fucked Up's sense of humor outshines their usually gruff demeanor as they whip through "singles" like the holiday ode "David Christmas," the comically sentimental "I Hate Summer,” the blitzkrieg boppy "Anarok City,” and the ridiculous “He’s So Frisky.
Contrary to common opinion, Fucked Up -- and for that matter, all of hardcore punk -- is not a scary band for immature, dangerous people. Listen to the first few songs on Couple Tracks and you'll realize just how sweet and endearing Fucked Up can be (a fact that is instantly obvious in the band's live shows, in between the bleeding and moshing). It's hard not to be charmed by "Teenage Problems," "Neat Parts," and "Carried out to Sea," among the first highlights by Fucked Up once their insane Epics in Minutes days were over.
In early 2007 Fucked Up were playing at Mercury Lounge, a relatively small but reasonably respectable club on New York’s Lower East Side. It was their first New York appearance since the Canadian band had been forced to cancel a slot at the CMJ Marathon a few months earlier due to visa problems. Frontman Pink Eyes (or Damian Abraham, if you prefer), related this story in conjunction with their border crossing to the current gig.
It would have been an understatement to say that Fucked Up were the underdogs going into last year’s Polaris Music Prize. And yet, there they were at the close of the awards ceremony, holding up a comically oversized check with “FUCKED UP” writ large on the front, to the amazement of all in attendance. Rare is the day that a hardcore band receives widespread critical attention, especially when that band has a decidedly less-than-family-friendly name.
Fucked Up are arguably the best hardcore album band of at least the last 20 years-- the Toronto sextet's Hidden World and The Chemistry of Common Life both manage the nearly impossible feat of keeping a piledriver punk-rock assault compelling for more than 45 minutes straight. In practice, though, they're more of a singles act. Since 2002, they've released a few dozen 7" and 12" singles, usually in "collectible" quantities.
You are Fucked Up, a hazy hardcore outfit from the frozen north of Canada. You've been making songs at a break-neck pace for about five years now. Your Internet stock is as high as it has ever been. Your most recent album, The Chemistry of Common Life, is your most profitable and well-received release to date.
Hard-to-find cuts from the award-winning Canadian punks compiled. Alex Deller 2010 It’s been a funny old journey for F***** Up, who grunted into life at the turn of the century and quickly became poster boys for the DIY punk rock underground thanks to a stream of excellent 7” records. Alongside fellow Torontonians Career Suicide the band managed to affect a volte-face for the hardcore community, demonstrating an encyclopaedic knowledge of the genre’s embryonic days that took in the likes of Poison Idea, Negative Approach and The Fix and spawned a sea of dreary imitators.
Fucked Up is a Toronto success Americans wish they could claim. They have been around for almost a decade never hitting the same thing twice, releasing numerous 7”s and only two full length records, one of which, The Chemistry Of Common Life, had them sailing into new tour opportunities. The record won Fucked Up the Polaris Music Award and wide critical acclaim as one of the best records of 2008.
Over the last decade, this Toronto sextet has dragged punk rock into dangerous new territory, and Couple Tracks picks up some of the vinyl shattered along the way. Essentially a companion piece to 2008's Epics in Minutes, the 25-song collection splits the band's difficult-to-find singles ("Dangerous Fumes," "Toronto FC") and rarities (the demo "Carried Out to the Sea") across two discs. The first opens with Fucked Up's 2002 debut 7-inch, "No Pasaran," a rough, anti-fascist bruiser, and only gets better from there: the relentless Krautrock attack of "Black Hats," holiday delight "David Christmas," storming, six-minute "Triumph of Life," and Jonah Falco's stripped-down, original version of "No Epiphany," which was the densest cut on Fucked Up's Polaris Prize-winning third album, 2008's The Chemistry of Common Life.