Well, this one is fun. The bordering on legendary Toronto punks deliver a tidy –40 minutes flat!– album that rips from start to finish. Forty minutes is like an EP for Fucked Up. Usually eschewing economy for sprawling grandeur, Fucked Up delivered the “opera” David Comes to Life in 2011 and the epic sequel Dose Your Dreams in 2018, both extending well past an hour in length. That’s a lot of Fucked Up in one sitting. One Day was over before I wanted it to be. This album is not a bad place to start if you’ve never before dipped your toe in Fucked Up waters.
The album jumps out of the box with ‘Found’ an angry lamentation of ‘temples of police and landlords’ with ringing guitars. We move next move to…..a strange sea fable set to a prog punk “C’mon Eileen” track? That second song finishes with a repeated peppy refrain: “I think I might be weird.” Ya think? The album continues to hum along. Highlights are “Lords of Kensington” with its corrosive nostalgia. ‘Walk past the pot shop/Owned by the cop/Bring back the day when someone would’ve glued those locks/Pigs were lurking in the parkette,” lyrics that harken back to the old days and Fucked Up’s long antagonistic relationship with the Toronto constabulary (‘I ain’t no fan the police’—2007’s ‘Police.’)
Screeds against genocide and cops, delivered in Damian Abraham’s barrel- chested guttural howl. Yawn, garden variety punk, you might be thinking, heard it before. And, sure, a little of that voice even goes a long way for me, too. (I can’t listen to the whole Soul Glo album in one sitting either and that thing is amazing). Forty minutes is about right. But, there is something bigger going on here.
Abraham and fellow vocalist/songwriter Mike Haliechuk were rumored to be on the outs after Dose Your Dreams, Abraham feeling marginalized. It’s the age-old story with talented collaborators, one itching to go in a different direction, the other sticking to a well-worn path. Jones and Strummer. Hart and Mould. Haliechuk and Abraham remind me of this latter duo and Fucked Up reminds me of Hüsker Dü, although I don’t want to go too far with that flattery. The fact that Fucked Up even invites this tentative comparison is praise enough. Both bands exploited a tension between a poppier sound and a rough one that creates something different and fresh. It sure as hell isn’t pop punk. It’s hardcore with a soft coating. It’s an inside out Tootsie Pop, not easy to pull off.
The band appears to have worked out any differences. Abraham takes lead vocals on every song except the ‘Cicada’ which sounds like it could be on Candy Apple Grey. His gargling glass shards voice is often supported by clarion backing vocals, ‘Nothing’s Immortal’ being a prime example with its Burt Bacharach-y (RIP) intro.
Band members were reportedly under strict orders to take no more than 24 hours to write each song. The album was recorded in three eight- hour sessions. Steely Dan would not approve. The resulting album is completely unfussy; it just gets in, rocks hard, and leaves. And lyrically, what else do we have here other than the usual the world’s a mess? Love! ‘What could you do in just one day?/Fall in love, spend your time away.’ (the rousing title song, ‘One Day’); ‘When it gets too tough/And when you need to shut off/I’m still standing with you and in the end that’s all we need.’ (‘Roar’). My eyes are getting Hüsker dewy.
This band is endlessly fascinating. Fucked Up? Fuck yeah!
Words by Rick Larson
“Temples of police and landlords”-fuckin’ love that. Also, loved the imposed time limits on songwriting and production. Larson’s label of “Screeds against genocide and cops” is a rousing invitation to join the riot. I’ll definitely be dipping my toe into Fucked Up waters.