There are plenty of bands that sing ecstatically about getting drunk and high, but there are only a few that sing equally ecstatically about puking and being strung out. FIDLAR revel in the worst things in life with a misanthropic and hedonistic brand of garage punk that can only be born out of complete and total nihilism.
Their eponymous, debut album is a celebration of sensual pleasures and, to the point of self-abuse, their aftermath. That could be a dark formula if FIDLAR didn’t bring sunny Southern California melodies and a gonzo energy to match their insatiable appetites. The result is some of the most f-cked up, delirious music we’ve heard in awhile.
Every FIDLAR song is about getting trashed, but none so perfectly encapsulates the band’s world view as ‘Cheap Beer,’ the album’s first single and the first song to really gain the band a wider audience. Over a surfy and endlessly repeated riff, lead singer Zac Carpenter screams dementedly about smoking weed and doing speed while drunk-driving on LA’s 101 freeway before the song erupts into a chorus of “I DRINK! CHEAP BEER! SO WHAT! F-CK YOU!” It’s FIDLAR at their least melodic but most crazed and, as an album opener, it’s about as memorable of an introduction as a band could hope for. The band can write hooks, too. ‘No Waves’ is an amphetamine-charged rush with the guitars carrying the “chorus”. The band sounds half a second away from barrelling out of control while Carpenter sings earworm verses that all begin with “I feel! Feeling like…” (“giving up”, “shooting up”, “a crackhead”, “a cokehead”, “I need a new body and a new soul”).
FIDLAR’s closest analogue is Black Lips. Not only do both bands gleefully wallow in the good times/bad times, but ’60s garage rock is a major influence on their sounds. On a song like ‘Gimmie Something,’ an ode to a bum who spends his life demanding money to buy drugs, the relatively laid-back vibe works perfectly as a change of pace. But at 14 songs and nearly 40 minutes, the album is a little longer than it needed to be. When the band slows down on the cheating girlfriend dirge ‘Whore’ and the Nuggets-esque ‘LDA,’ neither is bad, but they disrupt FIDLAR’s single-minded, maniacal rush.
FIDLAR introduces a band that seemingly arrives miraculously fully formed. In fact, they’ve been playing around LA for a while now and perfecting their sound in legendarily anarchic and beer-soaked shows. The true miracle is that FIDLAR captures the wild, drunken glory of the band’s concerts. If you’re feeling amoral, drunk, self-loathing, hungover… give FIDLAR a try. F-ck it, dog. Life’s a risk.