Release Date: Jun 16, 2015
Record label: Deathwish Inc.
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Post-Hardcore, New Wave/Post-Punk Revival
Punk is about freedom of expression. It’s about corroding the influences of neoliberalism and capitalism, removing the shackles of corporate, major label interference. It has a sound, but it doesn’t have to sound like anything in particular. It’s about taking your own route, smashing the doors down and playing as loud as you want, as fast as you want, “as long as it’s good and it has passion” (Kurt Cobain).
The Onion’s hardcore little sibling, The Hard Times, is occasionally a little too on the nose with their jabs. Just like The Onion’s vicious take downs of politics, The Hard Times’ biting sarcasm of all things punk can get a bit real. Such was the case when they claimed that Deafheaven regularly fell asleep at their own shows, or when they announced “Fucked Up to Release New EP on Clay Pot”.Fucked Up, from their name down, has never been an orthodox band.
Fucked Upâ€™s last album, Glass Boys, was a sort of codification of the band. Following a string of conceptual releases, including an album about the sun (sorta) and a meta-album about the band themselves, the bandâ€™s own Damian Abraham openly contemplated the bandâ€™s next moves in interviews: â€œWhen David Comes To Life was done, we werenâ€™t sure we were going to make another record because it felt weird to try and make a record after that. â€ With that in mind, the band released Glass Boys, a compact record that commented on the fact that they had progressed, that they had done the massive epic album thing, and what was left to do?So then, the fear with such a statement is, what does the band do after that? The answer comes in Year of the Hare, which was recorded along side Glass Boys.
Since 2006’s ‘Year Of The Dog’, Fucked Up have released seven Chinese Zodiac-themed EPs that sound almost nothing alike. If the A-sides share one thing in common, however, it’s in providing the Canadian hardcore sextet a lengthy window of opportunity to take risks. What makes ‘Year Of The Hare’ special is the way it threads together a suite of segments highlighting Fucked Up’s strengths: off-kilter arrangements, fluid instrumental passages and plenty of experimental side-steps.
Some bands treat their between-album singles with all the care of a 7th grader finishing their homework on the bus before first period, but Fucked Up are clearly not like most bands. The 2015 installment in their "Chinese Zodiac" EP series is a single that's practically gargantuan -- the A-side, "Year of the Hare," clocks in at over 21 minutes, while the flip, "Cold California," is more efficient but still hefty, coming in at over eight minutes, making this single significantly longer than many classic punk albums at just a shade under half-an-hour. As befits Fucked Up's musical approach, Year of the Hare is as ambitious as it is long, and the title tune plays more like a suite than a single song, with acoustic guitars and pianos drifting through an atonal soundscape before the band finally kicks in at full gallop, with Damian Abraham bellowing with his usual hurricane-level force, interrupted around the halfway mark by a cool R&B-influenced interlude with vocals from Isla Craig.
The thing about Fucked Up is that on their proper albums, their music has never been all that fucked up. At this point, the Toronto band is basically a heavy guitar pop group fronted by the unmistakable hardcore bark of Damian "Pink Eyes" Abraham. They're hardcore in spirit and attitude and Wikipedia entry only: 2014's Glass Boys was more digital-age the Who than Minor Threat (and the same goes for 2011’s hour-plus rock opera David Comes to Life, really).
In an episode of Frasier, the good doctor is tasked with writing a jingle for his radio show. The short ditty swells into an epic, rounded out by a string section, dramatic monologue, even bagpipes. When reminded that sometimes “less is more,” Frasier snaps, “Ah, yes! But if less is more, then think of how much more more will be!” This attitude comes to mind listening to Fucked Up – and especially their ambitious Chinese zodiac-themed singles, the latest of which is Year Of The Hare.