Fucked Up have pulled out all the stops to make, arguably, the album of their career with Dose Your Dreams. Whilst it kicks off in a familiar punk fashion, they then take unexpected turns into psychedelia, groove work-outs and even doo-wop before is brought to a close with a Krautrock epic. LP and CD on Merge.
Limited Vinyl Double LP £25.99 MRG661LPC1
Limited yellow in clear coloured vinyl 2LP on Merge. Includes newsprint poster.
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Vinyl Double LP £22.49 MRG661LP
Black vinyl 2LP on Merge. Includes newsprint poster.
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CD £13.99 MRG661CD
2CD on Merge. Comes in a 6-panel digipak w/ booklet & poster inserts.
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Probably my favourite memory of Leeds Rock Life™ was seeing a triple biller of Metz, Titus Andronicus and Fucked Up at the Brudenell. I know, I’m hot garbage, but hear me out: at the time me and my two best friends were all in love with one band a piece, so while waiting for our favourite to come on, we were riding a contact high to hell. I was there for Titus but Fucked Up took the coveted nath_brudenell crown, offering a thrilling rendition of their relentless, wave-riding hardcore. Maybe it was ‘cos they had ‘David Comes To Life' behind them that they felt so vital; finally, the potential of their seemingly endless energy had the refinement of a double-disc classic to call its summit.
The solution to reaching this peak, maybe, was just to do it all over again: ‘Dose Your Dreams’ is another long slog record that converts their catchy chord chug and ethereal post-hxc into something serialised and behemothic. It’s like, this sound is good, but blown out into clouds and skyscrapers, it becomes classic Fucked Up. For the first half of the LP, frontman Damian Abraham is scraping the barrel of his voice box with stream-of-consciousness rants, his band’s fuzz-soaked forward momentum caffeinating him. This isn’t a one stop record, though: the first couple tracks borrow gorgeously blown out saxophone solos, and only four songs in the band start marrying the Hold Steady to Superchunk in “Normal People”, which renders our familiar punk band as a power pop delight.
If the first half drops hints at a versatile, genre-borrowing Fucked Up, the backend of ‘Dose Your Dreams’ makes it all explicit, hammering home a band who like vintage synth sounds, hard rock solos, and punk rock abstracted into ambient miasma. As if arriving to an Animal Collective fan message board to post the sentence “how about those Beach Boys harmonies?”, they also throw in “Two I’s Closed”, suddenly spreading out, inviting sparsity and letting the space they’re recording in factor in to proceedings. Sure, Fucked Up could’ve rested on those first ten tracks and had a record, but this second half of strange, dramatically tweaked music impulses? I can’t help but feel it's the progbitten masterpiece they've always been holding back from us. And the lamb lies down on... Fucked Up?
8/10 Greg H 14th October 2018
For this, the fifth full-length album from what was once a hardcore punk band that vowed never to make one, Fucked Up put the relative brevity of 2014's 'Glass Boys' firmly back in its box and return to the world of the rock opera with what is essentially a sequel to 2011's 'David Comes to Life'. 'Dose Your Dreams' deals with the latter album's title character's wrongful dismissal from his white-collar job and subsequent journey to the universe's outer limits in the company of 80-year-old former anarchist revolutionary Joyce Tops, who leads him to discover the secrets underpinning late capitalism whilst also attempting to reconcile with her ex-lover, Lloyd.
The band themselves have been pretty open about the fact that this is lead guitarist Mike Haliechuk's baby, being the first Fucked Up album whose lyrics have been written solely by him. Frontman Damian Abraham takes a comparative back seat, only singing two thirds of the songs (Abraham himself claims to have only learnt what the songs were about from the album's press release). The album is a dichotomy; on the one hand, songs like 'House of Keys' and 'Accelerate' come closer to resembling Fucked Up's early hardcore material than anything they've released since 2006's 'Hidden World'. On the other, it sees them venturing into genres they've previously just flirted with on their Zodiac series of singles, such as psychedelia ('Dose Your Dreams' and 'Two i's Closed'), power pop ('Normal People'), dream pop ('How to Die Happy'), and electronica ('Mechanical Bull'). Synths and saxophones proliferate, with the latter instrumentation being provided by drummer Jonah Falco's mother. How these songs, with their array of guest vocalists and additional instruments, will work in a live setting is anyone's guess. The Husker Du-esque college rock sound of 'Glass Boys' returns on 'The One I Want Will Come For Me' and 'Came Down Wrong'.
Whilst I can't say I found every song on here to be a winner, and the album's determinedly experimental nature will be a disappointment to those who prefer Fucked Up's more stripped down work, many of them I found undeniably enjoyable, and on the whole, I thought this was a far more accomplished attempt at a rock opera than 'David Comes to Life'. It probably sits in the middle of my rankings of Fucked Up albums; above 'David Comes to Life' and 'The Chemistry of Common Life', but below 'Hidden World' and 'Glass Boys'. Although with Abraham's openness about his desire to take less of a prominent role within the band, and the scope for further experimentation and genre transcendence following this album looking narrower than ever before, the band and their fans will be left wondering after this where the hell they can go from here.
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