Who else but Fucked Up would release an entire album just to promote another album?*
David's Town functions as a set piece for the group's lauded third LP, David Comes to Life. Set in the fictional UK town of Byrdesdale Spa, David's Town seeks to affect the appearance and sound of a compilation from the album's setting. In reality, the album strays from the largely instrumental foundation on David Comes to Life, written by Mike Haliechuck and Jonah Falco with members of Fucked Up and other indie royalty taking turns on vocals as they masquerade as bands from the album's setting.
While DCtL was as substantive as it was serious, here, most of the participants seem to be taking a breath from the sheer mass of the associated album and just let themselves have fun. But, in having fun and not worrying about how the finished project will define the band, the various contributors cut some of their snappiest, simplest, and snarliest tunes to date.
FU's third guitarist, Ben Cook, masquerading as Animal Man, adopts a Buzzcocks/Gary Numan high-pitched cockney tone and rollicks through a tale about using curry as a vehicle for picking up women. FU's main vocalist Damien, fronting Gacy and the Boys, pays tribute to early Oi! and kicks out the boots-and-braces banger "My Old Man's a Ginger" in 38 seconds that as much distances themselves from the racism that plagued the genre as it does poke fun at it. However, in the FU crew, Sandy Miranda, playing the part of Redstockings on "Unrequited Love", cuts a melange of early alt-pop and punk that highlights the distinctiveness of her voice through lyrics that both acknowledge her femininity without pandering to stereotypes.** Further pushing the envelope of weirdness as well as grabbing towards the past, Jonah Falco assumes a threatening German identity as Das Schwabe (on "Das Schwabe"), building a menacing mechanical march through equal parts Joy Division, Kraftwerk, and Hawkwind.
But the gang also brings in other indie up-and-comers to round out the disc's sound. While the FU-fronted material circles fairly close to classic punk formulation, the outsiders from the group lean towards more traditional indie pop expression. Dylan Baldi of Cloud Nothings cops the non-de-plum of Wonderer and balances spoken word with am garage rock jangle on "It's Hard to Be a Dad" while musing on being a new dad.
However, because the instrumental parts of the tunes were mainly written by two guys in a creative flurry, the songs do seem fairly similar in tone and pacing...with one very notable exception. Simone Schmidt of One Hundred Dollars, as Grain, lays her sweet, ghostly moan over a winding, thick bass groove and ringing guitar strings, and the collaboration yields the best Nicks-era Fleetwood Mac song that was never written by Fleetwood Mac (and maybe even the best Fleetwood Mac song period).
With David Comes to Life being such a mountainous journey, David's Town acts as both a beginner's path to the epic, as well as a breather. While it does help paint in the story's background, it also leaves one hoping that maybe a few more Fucked Up side projects come to fruition...***
* - Well, you could argue that hip-hoppers have released promotional mixtapes for years, but Fucked Up did that too. So really, I guess, the question is: "Who else but Fucked Up would release an entire album, a mixtape, and five singles with exclusive B-sides just to promote another album?"
** - There is a rumor, to which I cannot cite a source, that suggests FU might be recording an EP or LP of Redstockings material. Nice.
*** - At my last count, there were 11 Fucked Up side bands: Mad Men, Career Suicide, Young Governor, Young Guv & the Scuzz, the Bitters, Roomates, Marvelous Darlings, Ben Rayner and the Pricks, Criminally Insane, Pink Eyes (the band), and Millennial Reign (and probably like 19 more)