Dear Fucked Up,
I knew you existed, I knew you were out there, trailing maple leaves and stacks of 7” singles blasting hardcore punk rock, something I didn’t regularly submit myself to. To be critical of your band would be to mock your very existence. Hearing it in a club and having people launch themselves on top of you while performing is one thing, but rocking out in your bedroom to this unrelenting assault is taxing. That doesn’t mean we still can’t be friends.
It’s always cause for caution when a band does something dramatic in their career, like sign to a major, kick an addiction, or make the ultimate statement for a band — the concept album. It’s the ‘go hard or go home’ of music, usually on par with the triple album, but in a sense more artistic and less gratuitous. Once the ‘concept album’ line is crossed off the band bucket list, where do you go from here?
You have to give Fucked Up credit for David Comes To Life. Anything of this nature is capital A ambitious. To turn a predominantly hardcore band into linear storytellers on a rock opera bent is a tough job, hence the dominant guitar melodies and Mustard Gas mixing it up with Pink Eyes on the vocals (those names are better than anything Marvel Comics ever came up with for Alpha Flight). It’s a softening of the Fucked Up sound, structurally more melodic and Strummer/Jones-like in effect. The lyrics… there are few choruses here to cling to. To compete with the lyrical deluge, few songs are under 4 minutes and at 18 songs long, we’re looking at a near movie-length story, yet I still can’t understand a fucking word out of Pink Eyes mouth, which is a major stumbling block when trying to convey a story.
David Comes To Life is a love-found, love-lost tale about a boy who works in a lightbulb factory and the person narrating the story. That’s oversimplifying things, but without the lyric sheet to guide you, it could be about anything. I do love this record, purely because it is unlike anything else right now, and for the idea that if this were performed live in entirety, David Comes To Life would come alive.
It’s probably the first album I can think of that works best (and is preferable) on double vinyl, because getting up to change sides and sitting back down again is the right amount of intermission needed. The pace is relentless, the songs often fail to differentiate from each other and if you’re going to take the David Comes To Life challenge head-on, concentration is required. You want easy listening, Coldplay have a new album coming out. Maybe in a few years from now, some precocious/liberal arts college will turn this into a musical.
Wouldn’t that be something?