FIDLAR – Too
Continuing to celebrate the exultation and exasperations of living in the moment, L.A. skate-punks FIDLAR deliver more primitive punk sound on sophomore LP Too.
Adopting their name from an acronym of skater adage ‘fuck it, dog, life’s a risk’ and inspired by the venerable three-chord wonders The Ramones, Cali-punk legends The Descendants, as well as more contemporary punk acts like The Offspring the group formed in 2009. Comprised of Zac Carper (guitars/vocals), Elvis Kuehn (guitars/vocals), Brandon Schwartzel (bass) and and Max Kuehn (drums) FILDAR quickly established a reputation on the L.A. music scene for both their drunken antics and killer live act. After the release of their self-titled LP in 2013 the quartet quickly attracted a cult following online and gained international recognition touring alongside The Pixies, Wavves and The Black Lips. Making their first foray outside of the world of D.I.Y. recording, the tracks for Too were laid down over two weeks under the auspices prolific Nashville producer Jay Joyce.
Kicking the album off with “40oz. On Repeat”, which was teased in May alongside a video paying homage to 90s-00’s era MTV music videos, the first track makes clear from the get-go that the boys remain committed to their “wake skate and bake” lifestyle. While providing a restatement of the band’s core principles the anthemic 90s fuzz also suggests a slight shift towards a more introspective tone with a more pronounced lamentation of isolation and financial woes. Continuing on with their homage to 90s era MTV, second track “Punk” channels the chunky rock licks of Lenny Kravitz’s “Are You Gonna Go My Way” while working in some aggressive vocal screams and a psych-out moment in the middle 8. Following up with an uptempo party anthem, “West Coast’s” singsong vocals swing back with some good vibes. Punk style doo-wop and catchy hooks reinforce the band’s knack for crafting catchy pop-punk tunes.
Leading in with some irreverent guitar jangle reminiscent of Mac Demarco, “Why Generation” explores the existential crisis of a Gen Y, astutely tapping into the woes of finding meaning in the internet age. In true punk fashion the instrumentation of “Sober” and “Leave Me Alone” aggressively shreds and pummels away while lyrics explore themes of freedom, excess and individualism. “Drone” lays down the punk mantra of avoiding the banality of a 9-5 job following closely in the fashion of The Buzzcocks’ “What Do I Get?”. Culminating in another explosive psych-out instrumental, “Overdose” changes the tone of things with sparse instrumentation and a descending chord progression, which creates an intimate and bleak tone that perfectly complements the dark interior monologue of the narrator. With the group having cited the music of Credence Clear Water Revival as an influence there is certainly an 70s blues vibe present in “Hey Johhny’s” distorted guitar licks and driving rhythm section.
Sounding like a bizarre collision of Radiohead’s “Just”, Oasis’ “Champagne Supernova” and FIDLAR’s own sound the grandiose and heart-on-sleeve confessional “Stupid Decisions” shines through as strong point for the LP. Leaving little moment for pause “Bad Medicine” provides some full-blown garage-punk assault with a fast and loud track, replete with bouncy vocals and doo-wop breakdown. Matching the 7 minute send-off “Cocaine” from previous LP, final track Bad Habits brings Too to an unrepentantly over-the-top conclusion. Lyrics ‘I’m getting older and I’m freakin’ out, and I’m freakin’ out cause I got nothing to show’ leading into chorus line ‘’cause I got bad habits’ exemplifies the group’s proclivity for exploring the explicit without coming across as disingenuous or crass and perfectly conveys the idea that under the band’s airy veneer of gleeful excess lays a truly nihilistic punk aesthetic.
While not straying far from previous territory, the integration of some left-of-centre classic rock influences, a slightly more introspective approach to songwriting and a no-holds-barred punk attitude makes Too an excellent follow-up to FIDLAR’s energetic debut LP.
Riley Fitzgerald is a Brisbane-based writer and wine drinker generally found shuffling around DIY gigs or music festivals. He collects synths and music books. Favourite labels include Ghostly Int., Warp, Flying Nun, 4AD, Future Classic, & Bedrooms Suck. Follow him on Twitter @RileynfView all posts by Riley Fitzgerald
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