Album Reviews - Reviews

Fucked Up – Glass Boys


Fucked Up are a band living in the shadow of some powerful things. In 2008, the band released their second record, Chemistry of Common Life, an immensely satisfying and exhilarating album that challenges the very essence of hardcore and distills it into something new and exciting. In 2011, they followed it up with David Come To Life, an ambitious, grandiose concept album which explores love, betrayal and metatextual analysis in Thatcher’s Britain over its seventy-eight minute run time. These records can be mentioned in the same breath as Refused’s Shape of Punk To Come or Husker Du’s Zen Arcade as vital punk albums that refuse to adhere to imposed standards and instead write their own rules. That’s the thing about Fucked Up with their three guitarists and ten minute songs: there has always been an attempt to blaze a new trail. For better or for worse. So it makes sense that having gone to the zenith of pomposity with David, that the band’s follow up, Glass Boys, would be a relatively stripped back affair about growing old and the existential fear that comes with it, which clocks in at just over forty minutes featuring four separate drum parts on every track. Obviously.

The album throws you straight into the deep end from the word go, with the album opener ‘Echo Boomer’, whose drums are what I imagine Steve Albini’s dreams sound like. Once the main riff of the song slides into the mix like warm butter, it is immediately apparent is that this album is trying desperately to throw off the shackles of its predecessors and be its own beast. The plethora of layered riffs which previously defined the Fucked Up sound have been left on the back burner in favour of a more textured approach. Gone is the blade in your face intensity which characterized ‘Queen of Hearts’ and ‘Son the Father’ and what remains is more nuanced and subtle almost shoegaze approach to punk. This has mixed results. While it does help the album stand out amongst its peers, it limits the album’s impact to some degree. Despite the fantastic opening of ‘Echo Boomer’, the album doesn’t really find its feet until the later half of ‘Sun Glass’. With that said however, when the album does find its feet, it hits like a steamroller driven by Mike Tyson. ‘Glass Boys’ and ‘DET’ are just fantastic, while ‘Paper the House’ is easily the album’s peak. Plus J. Mascis plays on the excellent ‘Led By Hand’ and there are very few things in this world that would not be improved by J. Mascis shredding.

Ultimately, this is not their best record, quite far from it in fact. It’s a solid album and while not all of the experiments work, Fucked Up are still willing to attempt something new. Each of their major releases has just been them probing around and trying to find something new. With the last two being so much on the fringe, eventually they would have to pull back. Glass Boys, as an experiment, doesn’t really work but that doesn’t mean it’s not a pretty sweet record. Will Murphy