Fucked Up – Couple Tracks: Singles 2002 – 2009

What killed Punk? Was it the increasing aggression on its fans by law enforcement or perhaps the increasing presence of pop-punk on the mainstream musical conscious, with bands like Blink-182 and Green Day leading the hair-dyed, sneer-sporting charge? That garbage aside, I don’t think Punk ever really died; it’s only changed forms. Bands like Fugazi, Converge, and even the young Dangers carry the torch on, and while they may not necessarily be punk musically, they have the melodramatic emotions, DIY ethos, and thrown-together hodgepodge stage presence that made Punk a force to be reckoned with in years past. However, in the small minority of true Punk bands, there stands one band with six kids from Toronto that still want to dupe cops, take down the man, and fuck shit up. They are Fucked Up, thinking man’s Punk band, and they will chew you up, spit you out, and piss on your body.

With two absolutely stellar albums under their belts (the beautifully scattershot Hidden World and the epic masterpiece that is The Chemistry of Common Life) and a wide variety of EP materials to cherry-pick singles from, they’ve given us Couple Tracks, a best-of collection of their mass array of non-album tracks, B-sides, EP-only releases, and even some covers of their Hidden World and tCoCL material. The collection feels unsurprisingly messy, a humongous problem with many “Greatest Hits Collections”, although I’d be hesitant to call this collection a Greatest-Hits collab. It serves as an introductory packet for the bands huge discography, perfect for non-listeners to get into and great for older fans to listen to some hard-to-get material that still stands pretty tall along with their albums.

The album starts off with “No Parasan”, an incredibly aggressive track from their earlier days containing a propagandist speech repeating “No pasaran”, a French phrase used during WWII that means to stand your ground. Vocalist Pink Eyes (Damian Abraham) spits out wicked phrasings, but simplicity is always his strong suit, with talks of liberty in an unjust, Darwinian society being surrounded with a harsh growl of “They won’t fuck with us much longer!” Easily the most “hardcore” of the tracks present, it’s a bracing introduction that makes or breaks the album: if you’re into it, stick around, if not, hit the showers, because these guys get lighter, but not much less menacing.

Follow-up “Neat Parts” and tracks like the chugging “Ban Violins” and the lightning bolt that is “Magic Kingdom” reveal an important part about Fucked Up; sure, tCoCL might have shown them to be more of a guitar-oriented band, but make no mistake bout it, the bass and drums are the driving force of the band. The guitars and Damian Abraham throaty growl are the fresh on top of the bones that is the rhythm section of Sandy Miranda and Jonah Falco, who play their instruments with tenacity and a perfect simplicity, complexity being left to the fills that they throw into the melody almost constantly, especially on tracks like “Last Man Standing (Year of the Dog version)”, where 3 minutes into the song, they go absolutely nuts.

Ultimately, this collection depends on the songs themselves rather than a usual album’s cohesion and narrative-focus, and there some really good songs here. Sure, they bounce between production values making it extremely obvious that it was made with the full 7 years between the title in mind, earlier stuff sounding rougher and newer sounding pretty much like their album material. However, if you want Punk music at its finest and most intelligent, and sometimes weirdest (“David Comes to Life (Daytrotter Version)”, you can’t really beat Fucked Up. Whether you’re a new fan or that one guy that has every 7 and 12 inch, this collection serves as a great addition to an already stellar discography, even if it doesn’t always mesh quite well with itself.

by Trevor “Still Looking for God” Johnson

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