Fucked Up - David Comes To Life
Could there be any band as ill suited for worldwide press as Fucked Up? Their name seems designed to be shunned by TV and radio (if not humorously infested with beeps), their lyrics are often verbose tales and takes on topics physical and metaphysical, and singer/front man Pink Eyes is among the largest men to climb stage scaffolds in nothing more than underwear in history (unless Meat Loaf wants to start stripping and climbing). Previously, their Chemistry Of Modern Life took the music world by storm, earning the band a much deserved Polaris prize, and was followed up by a handful of EPs that proved Fucked Up to be a wholly engaging band never content to just be hardcore. For Record Store Day this year they decided to tease all of those waiting for David Comes To Life by releasing David’s Town, a compilation from the invented British town where David Comes To Life takes place made up entirely of invented bands as interpreted by Fucked Up – a slightly more intense take on their experimentalism hinted at with this latest release. Did it serve any purpose other than providing a feel for the plot and Thatcher-led era of Life? Did it need to do anything other than that? By no means a new installment of the great Year Of The series, that release seemed important only because it revealed the depth to which Fucked Up carried this devotion. Well, the wait is over and seems to have been worth the buildup. Now even more substantial and unique, seemingly fueled by a never ending fount of creativity and riffs, this could be one of those albums that completely and totally dominates the field with its unrivaled brilliance.
Did that last line come off as a bit hyperbolic or overly fawning? I do apologize, but this is a momentous album to be honest (because why stop being honest now?). Before, Fucked Up relied on cohesive sound or thematic relevance (Epics In Minutes being a compilation, for instance) but never had they toyed with something as grandiose and pitfall laden as the form of the rock opera. While the term itself causes reactions ranging from “I love The Wall!” to “Didn’t that ruin all of prog? And a bunch of other bands?” the scale and coherence needed to pull off a full narrative, let alone one stretched out to the physical limitations of the compact disc, deserve respect for completion regardless of skill. Unless it’s The Wall... Before delving into David Comes To Life, the primer offered by DavidComesToLife.com consists of the complete libretto and narrative summary, presented as a HTML-based alternative to a real Playbill. Now, I’ve read the whole thing a few times and followed the lyrics along with the album, and I still don’t know who to believe or what to piece together from whom and where, an issue compounded by the often unreliable narrators and dubious choices of everyone from David to Octavio. The one sentence blurbs outlining the action accomplished in each track definitely helps make sense of the lyrics (and, thus, the plot) fully, but David has the benefit of working as an album of songs as much as an album of individual ideas. The concept takes some unraveling and time to discern completely, but the music itself is so well written and performed that it could be about oil and birds (fuck, Dirty Projectors already did that), and 10,000 Marbles manages to bash out some of the most inventive and catchy work of recent (check ‘A Slanted Tone’ for a great example). Both The Other Shoe’ and ‘Turn The Season’ have the potential for severe retention in the mind, ‘Serve Me Right’ bristles with vivacity, and ‘Ship Of Fools’ manages to ride its own simplicity and energy out to the end with no shortcomings.
Lyrically, Pink Eyes is giving his all to convey the story with his usual writing style. As could easily be discerned, it works. Each character has dialogue with a unique view on the situation, and the choruses often reflect the important details without interrupting the narrative – it’s an obviously worked on book, and comes off as more of a scene breakdown or pitch than a set of lyrics, a move that aids in the transformation from song to mental image. Each character gets an expansion via a set of 7” that come with the album – so it can be expected that the story and motivations will only become clearer (obviously), so maybe (expectedly) the patches of fog will clear over Byrdesdale. Will Fucked Up take David and company to the stage in some way? Can I hope that some production would happen just to look and be awesome and be ridiculous? Why not! Who knows, with this sort of Album of the Year material, anything could happen in the coming months from new installments from the fictional bands to a torrent of unrelated singles and EPs, all of which I will personally digest with glee. Now maybe they’ll get even more acclaim and continue to confuse anyone who thinks F**d Up is how it’s spelled.
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