When a band unexpectedly finds success a few years into their career, it is the norm for them to release the obligatory singles album. Canadian hardcore punk outfit Fucked Up are no different, with their release of Couple Tracks.
For many people, Fucked Up came to prominence in 2008 with the release of Chemistry of Common Life. Hipsters everywhere met the album with open arms after Pitchfork and similar websites lauded it with praise. Rightly so, the album was a visceral and ambitions attempt and rejuvenated a genre that had been stagnating since the end of the Dischord Records bands. With the intriguing character Pink Eyes at the helm – think Tim Harrington from Les Savy Fav mix with a amateur back-yard wrestler – Fucked Up have signalled the intent that they were sticking around. Couple Tracks suggests that their time perhaps should have come earlier.
The two-disk compilation is opened by a sound-byte about equality, which I suppose is the point of Fucked Up, to accept people as they come, instead of ignoring them for seven years because they weren’t part of a token hip genre. Songs such as ‘Neat Parts’ and ‘Toronto FC’ make they album storm along at a hectic pace, often sounding like 70s garage rock with hardcore vocals. Themes of anarchy and situationism really anchor together the songs in Couple Tracks; this coherence sets apart the album from the often lazily put together compilations. The inclusion of some live sessions from Daytrotter exposes Fucked Up’s real strength, their live show with ‘Magic Word’ and ‘David Comes To Life’ sounding manic and strangely hypnotic.
It’s a relief that Couple Tracks is not just a quickly thrown together mess of a compilation, produced to make a quick buck off the tailcoats of new found success. It is a genuinely brilliant introduction to the band’s earlier material with some moments even eclipsing the brilliance of Chemistry of Common Life.