Fucked Up – Year Of The Tiger (Matador)
By Scott Creney
Yeah, I know it’s only two songs — a 12” single or some such bullshit. Hey, if it’s over 35 minutes I’m calling it an album. Especially when it’s my favorite thing they’ve ever done.
Here’s the A-side. Since it’s over 15 minutes long, it’s probably best to put it as early in the review as possible.
I’ve been trying for a couple of years now to get into Fucked Up. I love their ambition, their desire to take hardcore into new places. But no matter how hard I try, I just can’t get past the singer’s voice. I grew up in Southern California from the mid-80s to the mid-90s. I’ve heard enough punk fucking rock, and more specifically the hoarse testosterone bellow that comes with it, to last me several fucking lifetimes. To me, Fucked Up’s singer sounds way too much like the dude from Mighty Mighty Bosstones, or Rocket From the Crypt, or Henry Rollins, or any of those guys, for me to listen much longer than a few minutes. If I wanted some beefy, macho shithead to yell at me, I’d join the Marines. Or call my fucking dad.
For what it’s worth, in the interest of fairness or whatever, I feel the same way about women who sing like Chan Marshall, or in a babyish, lisping voice. Or who sing like Henry Rollins for that matter.
Thankfully, in Year Of The Tiger, the singer bro spends most of his time telling a story, buried impossibly low in the mix. Needless to say, this suits me just fine. You can just sit back and enjoy the way the song builds and builds in intensity over a quarter of an hour. It’s perfectly arranged, never getting dull for even an instant, and it’s absolutely wonderful.
The B-side is even better, a 22-minute instrumental/experimental musical palindrome called ‘ONNO’. Fuck yeah, Fucked Up! The obvious antecedent is Husker Du’s ‘Dreams Reoccurring’. It throbs and ebbs, running simultaneously backwards and forwards, a compelling mix of birth and decay. It’s the best drone I’ve heard in ages.
I recognize that my distaste for barking men is a personal preference. It’s completely subjective and completely unfair. But I know I’m not the only one. I’d hate for other people like me to miss out on this record because they’re not into Fucked Up. It’s too different from what they’re best known for, and too good to be ignored.