Fucked Up : David Comes To Life

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Fucked Up : David Comes To Life


Mentioning the term ‘rock opera’ often elicits extreme reactions, with responses falling somewhere either side of ‘lofty genius’ or ‘pretentious fuckwit’. Providing an album-length drama circling the life of a protagonist is a testing and ambitious task, and Ontario-based hardcore outfit Fucked Up have done just that. Brilliantly.

The almost 80-minute punk opus David Comes To Life is comprised of four ‘acts’, each detailing the Billy Shakespeare-esque tragedy of David as he moves through love, loss, guilt, betrayal and acceptance. While rock operas more often than not cover the transcendental, exploring grand philosophical themes – that or wailing about some blind dude who’s good at pinball – Fucked Up are no strangers to such ambition. However, this new offering takes frontman Pink Eyes’ lyricism to brand new heights.

The album opens in dramatic rock opera fashion with quiet piano reflections and fuzzed-out guitar motifs entwined. After building into a cacophonously dizzying whirl of guitars, the Fucked Up of old comes bursting through in Queen Of Hearts, featuring fast, aggressive drums, slick punk riffs and throat-shredding vocals. The atmosphere is overwhelmingly positive; the first act narrating David’s theatrical discovery of love. This joyful outlook continues in Under My Nose with some of the happiest punk lyrics ever put to tape: “My sun is shining, how about yours?.. Now I wake up beaming and the world just gleams.”

However, in understanding the conventions of tragedy, you know shit is about to get real for our operatic hero. On The Other Shoe, Mustard Gas’ (bassist Sandy Miranda) Kim Deal-style vocals hint that we’re all “dying on the inside”, as delay-drenched, atmospheric guitars contrast the beating toms underneath. The song grows into a probing wash of sound, introducing apprehension towards the darkness to come as David ultimately loses his love.

Pink Eyes’ lyrics in Act II explore death in a surprisingly mature way, one that belies the band’s young age, penning a tome of regret and writing from the perspective of wistful longing, an all-encompassing guilt and the terrifying fear of eternal recurrence.

Act IV gives way to dramatic plot twists and a rising sense of fury as Life In Paper tears into a stomping rhythm that would do The Boss proud. Searching guitars weaving in and out of thrashed powerchords and climbing basslines emphasise David’s despair as Pink Eyes screams, “Who can I trust? Nothing left for me to believe.”

I Was There explodes into a pulsating waltz that dances around the powerful vocals and searing guitars as David realises he is merciless at the hands of fate’s volition. The remainder of the album encapsulates the terrible fury of David’s plight, the music driving the album through intense, philosophical reflections and realisations as it builds to its dramatic climax.

There’s a lyrical sharpness about this album that gives incredible poetic insight into the nature of love, loss, guilt and despair. While it’s easy to brush off the operatic nature of the story as a rock opera cliché, it provides Fucked Up with a vessel to accurately and vividly depict these scenes and reflections in a way that surpasses the depth of 2008’s The Chemistry Of Common Life. The rebirth of David upon his acceptance of fate looks toward the future, lamenting “I’ve spent too much of my life defending my past.” This forward outlook is something Fucked Up must also adhere to; they have reached an artistic peak equalled by few other hardcore acts and this effort will be difficult to surpass.


Best Track: I Was There


In a word: Huge – in every sense of the word.