Fucked Up, “Dose Your Dreams”

Fucked Up
Dose Your Dreams
MERGE
7/10

When Fucked Up released their debut studio album Hidden World in 2006, it was a lengthy one, especially for a punk band. Clocking in at seventy-three minutes, the record was stuffed to the brim with roaring power chords and an incredibly omnipresent vocal presence, courtesy of Damian “Pink Eyes” Abraham.

Fucked Up are not a punk band by the genre’s typical requirements; sure, a large portion of their discography is relatively punk-oriented, but beyond their first record, they probed and experimented with prog rock, art punk, and flat-out stadium rock. Their most acclaimed accomplishments, 2008’s The Chemistry of Common Life and 2011’s David Comes to Life, highlighted the aforementioned experimentation with relative ease—it was abrasive music that wasn’t trying to be abrasive.

With the complexities found on Chemistry and the conceptual rock opera of David under their belts, Fucked Up moved forward, never recording anything as straightforward as Hidden World again. Perhaps that’s why the marginally zealous energy on the Toronto collective’s latest album—and first with MergeDose Your Dreams, sounds both refreshed and reconciled. The opening track, “None of Your Business Man,” enters with shimmering pianos and strings, vocals creeping up from the dirt, forming a seraphic atmosphere, immediately interrupted by Abraham’s burly growls. It’s a tight transition, something Fucked Up have perfected in their seventeen years of stifling, atmospheric prog-punk. There are moments of glitchy, digital hardcore, like on “House of Keys” and “Mechanical Bull,” as well as ambient chamber-pop on “Two I’s Closed.” This is easily Fucked Up’s most conceptually scattered record, but that’s also what gives it its charm.

Luckily, the rock epics of Fucked Up’s golden years have dissipated, and their sporadic and restless approach here does them more favors than any regressive stadium-rock opera would have. There are big sounding moments on Dose Your Dreams, such as “Accelerate,” or the steady, driving closer “Joy Stops Time,” one of the record’s finest moments. But beyond that, the whole thing is pretty insular, as the band appears no longer concerned with delivering something religiously themed or attempting something too artistically ambitious, too off the wall. Instead, Fucked Up let themselves grow naturally, developing into a sharper, less predictable, and ultimately better band. 

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