Fucked Up - David Comes To Life

Album cover
Fucked Up
David Comes To Life
Fucked Up - David Comes To Life Review rating:
4.5
User rating:
Average: 4 (4 votes)

How would you follow up your breakout record? Would you be more inclined to let pieces fall into place or attempt a conscientious change in sound? Maybe a fucking rock opera? I mean why not, right? If you chose the latter then you and Toronto hardcore outfit Fucked Up might have more than a few similarities. In lieu of 2008’s exceptional The Chemistry of Common Life and its Polaris Prize the endearingly quirky band once again refuse to shy away from theatrics and any pretension that may come a long with it. While David Comes To Life is an incredibly different record from Chemistry or their debut Hidden World (2006) it totes the same middle-finger pointed firmly in the direction of punk purists and rock traditionalists.

While undeniably Punk Rock in its most delectable form David Comes to Life is more A Night at the Opera (1975) than American Idiot (2004). It is an unabashed celebration of life and death, of love and loss, damnation and redemption. On paper this sounds corny as all hell but these are fundamental human emotions that Fucked Up taps into vitally with beautiful vocal harmonies, heart pounding guitar riffs, exceptional drum work and the primal force that is Damian Abraham. So sure this album will probably not convince any of their detractors that all their reservations towards “hipster influence” and “unwavering pretension” are unwarranted. But the band was built for this kind of stage. And for all of its setbacks, above all things, David Comes to Life is a celebration and an inherently exciting record.

Loosely speaking David Comes To Life is a classical tragedy set to the tune of boy-meets-girl, falls in love, girl dies, boy cries--a lot. He finds a new reason to live but nevertheless plunges head first back into his past as the record’s other characters reveal their roles in his lover’s death--thematically at least. Musically David is brimming with triumphant punk rock and sky bound hooks not too dissimilar from their previous output. Though David Comes To Life is to their past two albums what a vivid color spectrum is to grayscale. Pristine, yes and unarguably proficient, but neither Chemistry orHidden World work, nor even attempt to work with the same scope as David Comes To Life. “Ambitious” is almost too weak of a word. This band was always motivated--brazen even—but this record does not read like some absurd undertaking by barely weathered journeymen. Rather an exceptional turn of fate. Fucked Up was meant to sound this huge, be this unhinged with never-ending freedom and a ridiculous concept. Why? Because they hammer it home each and every time.

For all the animosity Fucked Up has generated since their formation—most of which was unwarranted—they seem to have no issue playing right into the hands of their critics. Under all of the album’s infectious melodies, bombastic drumming, drool-inducing riffs and bass lines is a distinctly pop record. So much so it feels awkward trying to pigeonhole the band as hardcore—a route that lead many an insert-core groupie to have an immediate distaste for Fucked Up’s expansive, technically proficient guitar-rock. Coincidentally enough David Comes To Life is all at once the band’s most wonderfully pompous and theatric outing yet, while also being their most easily accessible. The synth lines are fuller; the girl-group harmonies thicker and more frequent; the gang vocals louder while Abraham’s eloquent diary-page confessions are elongated and drenched in metaphor. Yet the concept’s root in universally relatable themes allows all the cheese to be bypassed by way of beguiling guitar work and Abraham’s invigorating rowdiness. Damian remains the bands and their music’s most intriguing aspect—he was always a beast on record but David is truly born within Abraham and for seventy-eight minutes he commands your attention.

“Salt for a stone/skin from the bone/a fission, division/from merged to alone/ Composure to dust/turns sterling to rust/the marriage of fire/and frozen combusts.” Abraham bellows on backend heavy-hitter “I Was There.” Now if we’re being truthful the record begins throwing its weight around and doesn’t stop until it finishes. But in this moment, after about forty-or-so minutes of reverb-drenched onslaught one would expect their attention to wander; their ears to tire. Instead the band ratchets up the tension for the record’s final act of four. Granted this line is specific to the record’s tale but works all the same as an allegory for the David’s intentions. To tear apart your preconceived notions to tatters as the record’s blazing hot beginning quells to cool rumbling in its mid-section before the two ideals are violently cascaded into one another for the finale. An explosion of riffs, echoing in dissonance as the bass turns from howls to a quake and a barrage of toms and hi-hats envelop you.

This is where David Comes To Life presents its most appealing solace unpredictably enough. Fucked Up has always toyed with wide-screen ambitions, grandiose concepts and snooty musicianship but not for some ego-centric quest. They genuinely love music—the immersion, the art, the fun, the total fucking package. Beyond that they strive to give their fans something worth purchasing and not just an excellent record or once-in-a-lifetime live experience but a level of severe dedication. I could go on about the influences and cues to the greats (Springsteen, The Stooges, Beatles, Refused, Fugazi and X to just name a few) but with so much to discover in this record: why waste your time? In the simplest terms David Comes To Life is a record of grand scope but intimate detail with enough scorching musicianship and anthemic hooks to attract any casual listener—but more importantly possesses the chops to demand subsequent listens and maybe, if everything goes as Fucked Up planned: utter and complete obsession. David would have it no other way.

1. Let Her Rest
2. Queen Of Hearts
3. Under My Nose
4. The Other Shoe
5. Turn The Season
6. Running On Nothing
7. Remember My Name
8. A Slanted Tone
9. Serve Me Right
10. Truth I Know
11. Life In Paper
12. Ship Of Fool
13. A Little Death
14. I Was There
15. Inside A Frame
16. The Recursive Girl
17. One More Night
18. Lights Go Up

Fucked Up is a hardcore punk band from Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

The band formed and played their first shows in early 2001. The initial practicing lineup consisted of 10,000 Marbles (Guitar), Concentration Camp (Vocals), and Mustard Gas (Bass Guitar). Just prior to recording their demo tape, Concentration Camp moved to guitar and vocal duties were taken over by Pink Eyes (also known as Mr. Damian). Drums are played by Mr. Jo (also credited as G. Beat or J. Falco) and Young Governor was added as a third guitarist in 2007.

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