Fucked Up gets a lot of positive attention from the mainstream press for being a creative hardcore band who pushes the boundaries of a stylistically conservative genre of music. I was excited to hear them. I appreciate that Fucked Up made a name for themselves by breaking the short‘n’fast songwriting rules of hardcore. But, what they did was slow down the music and lengthen the songs. That’s like saying, “You should check out this innovative pizza. It doesn’t have cheese or a crust!” So, maybe this isn’t hardcore. Maybe it’s hard rock or metal or prog rock or indie rock. It’s whatever you call sluggish, repetitive, five-minute songs with screamed vocals and indiscriminate production flourishes like woodwinds and clean, pop vocals. There’s even a song-length synth interlude that sounds like it was lifted in full from that ELO double album. These additions bring to mind the “shine to a shit” expression, but this isn’t that bad. At first, it had me pretending to be a wooly mammoth crashing through the snow. Then, after two songs, I felt like I was trying to nap with a belt sander grinding away under my bed. If Matador had sent a lyric sheet, I would look to that for insight. If Matador had sent a vinyl copy, I’d throw this album on at 45 to see if it got the blood rushing. Instead, I’ve just got this promotional CD sitting by the boombox in my kitchen, waiting to become a coaster. That’s the last time I let the New York Times tell me what hardcore bands to check out.
–CT Terry (Matador)