On its fourth full-length album, Toronto's favourite post-hardcore band manages to honour its roots and keep experimenting.
On its latest album, Glass Boys, Fucked Up manages to sound alternately both more and less like a traditional hardcore band than it has in years.
In many ways, Glass Boys marks a return to a more traditional Fucked Up, after the massive, meta-narrative-filled rock opera that was 2011’s David Comes to Life. Fucked Up has evolved so much by this point that it’ll never be a straight-ahead hardcore band again, but at least on Glass Boys you can see how it got from its fast and hard origins to where it is today. The drums hit like an endless series of cannons, and frontman Damien Abraham’s classic hardcore growl is front and centre.
The fast and frantic “The Great Divide,” the guaranteed mosh-pit mover of a title track, and the anthemic “Sun Glass” are a little more musically complex than traditional hardcore songs, but they’re still obviously rooted in Fucked Up’s time playing tiny DIY venues and smashing up TV studios. (You can check out the video for “Sun Glass” below.)
On the other hand, there are times on Glass Boys when the band experiments more than ever before. Since 2006’s Hidden World, Fucked Up has infused its brand of punk with some pretty heavy doses of psychedelia, and it really indulges in that at certain points on this record. Nowhere is that more obvious than on the swirling “Touch Stone” and the borderline-jammy “Warm Change” (the last minute-and-a-half of that five-minute song is just distorted guitar noodling and an organ). Then, of course, there’s the slow version. Because you’re also treated to an alternate version of the record, featuring all the drums recorded at half speed, that turns the whole album into a weird, gauzy, slow-motion free fall—which can perhaps best be described as the sonic equivalent of jumping into a swimming pool full of lube.
Fucked Up has managed to develop such a broad fan base because it’s not just another hardcore band—but on Glass Boys, it proves it can still honour its roots while continuing to expand its sound.