I always labor under a delusion that Fucked Up is going to save me. They seem a righteous lot. Their classic rock marathon David Comes to Life is a multi-generational festival of teen riot in my headphones. Every cerebral installment of their Chinese zodaic series - 11-minute monsters like 2009's "Year of the Rat" and 18-minute adrenaline excesses like this year's "Year of the Dragon" are roundhouse kicks to my rockist core. Their guitars surge like flowers greeting the sun, their rhythm section, a river putting a dam to the test and each song crashes, crashes, crashes like a million weekends at the demolition derby. But I never feel saved; certainly I never feel safer.
Maybe that is the thesis glowing inside the translucent Glass Boys. Singer Damian Abraham bellows past the point of ever being offered a lozenge, in fact, it's his unrelenting metal growl that has kept Fucked Up from ever completely adhering to my heart. It felt to much.
Glass Boys is an album, true, packed with songs of differing textures, but it also operates in the frame of their mega-singles, a clothesline pegged with ideas string along to flap like pennants in the gale. I cannot in honestly comment on the lyrics for they are to these ears indecipherable except for the stray phrase. I hear him say "you" a lot, and it sounds like "yeeeeowww" like it hurts. And that's where it hits me.
It hurts to be you. Fucked Up have been raging against all machines since the dawn of this young century, members cycling through punko nicknames like Pink Eye and Concentration Camp. A grown person has to feel a little foolish being called "Concentration Camp." Have the examples of Bono and Sting taught you nothing?
Fucked Up, "Paper the House"
But each of the numbers comprising the massive song-of-myself that is Glass Boys slows and speeds like an impatient soul weaving through heavy traffic, needing the engine's mechanical force to affirm one's humanity. Interviews have the the band offering up that they are now part of the system against which they rebelled against, and how do you keep that up? You become stronger, bigger and more focused. Each song is a needle approaching a breaking point and recedes before the chassis snaps.
So I might be beyond saving. Or there wasn't all that much from which I needed saving. That might be the message running deep in Abraham's growl-code. It's also possible that being saved is releasing the need to be saved, letting the light shine through you like glass boys. Whatever it is, I feel lit up by this record in every sense of the word.
As of this writing, you can stream Glass Boys at big shot music site Pitchfork. Because it's like that now.
Alex V. Cook listens to everything and writes about most of it. His latest book, the snappily titled Louisiana Saturday Night: Looking for a Good Time in South Louisiana's Juke Joints, Honky-Tonks, and Dance Halls is an odyssey from the backwoods bars and small-town dives to the swampside dance halls and converted clapboard barns of a Louisiana Saturday Night. Don't leave Heathrow without it. His first book Darkness Racket and Twang is available from SideCartel. The full effect can be had at alex v cook.com