During their 20-plus years as a band, Fucked Up have never shied away from taking chances and stepping outside of whatever box critics and fans have tried to put them in. Their evolution over the years has seen them morph from a hardcore punk band to an act that has become almost impossible to label with a genre.
The one constant has been an appetite for taking on projects that continue to grow larger and more ambitious in scale. The band already have two rock operas under their belt with 2011's David Comes to Life and 2018's Dose Your Dreams, plus a score for the 1928 silent film Zanzibar and a collection of 20-minute long singles as part of the Zodiac series, starting with 2006's Year of the Dog.
This month, Fucked Up celebrated the 10th anniversary of David Comes to Life, an 18-song rock opera that arrived with a promotional blitz featuring a movie-style poster campaign and a companion compilation of fictional bands who inhabited the album's narrative universe. At the time, David seemed to signify the apotheosis of the band's transformation from hardcore scrappers to art-punk dignitaries. But for all its extravagant packaging, David was also a triumph of economy, harnessing Fucked Up's power in service of melodic, anthemic tunes that continue to goose their streaming stats to this day.
If you thought David Comes to Life was as epic as punk could get, Dose Your Dreams proved you wrong. If you then thought Dreams was the top of the prog-punk mountain, you were wrong again. Fucked Up's newest entry in their zodiac series (until now, a series of extended 12-inch maxi-singles), Year of the Horse is four full sides of psychedelic epic punk story telling.
Photo by Natalie Wood Year of the Horse by Fucked Up Fucked Up have been a lot of things, but their maximalist instincts have presented a point of consistency in their work, forming and informing the band's musical project. That maximalism has manifested in any number of ways: the runtime of "Vivian Girls," which seemed marathon-scaled for a hardcore song in 2006; the band's famous 12-hour-long live gig in 2008; the whacko number of guitar tracks winding and erupting through songs like "Remember My Name" (2011) and "Glass Boys" (2014); the dimensions of Damian Abraham's sweating, heaving belly (which, to be fair, has significantly decreased of late, though the man himself remains imposing). Among all those outsized sounds and phenomena, Fucked Up's Zodiac series is noticeably expansive.