Controversial and confusing are probably the first two words that might be associated with Toronto's Fucked Up. Chances are that is their intention from their blatantly vulgar name, self-written interviews, pictures of Hitler in albums and getting into a feud with fellow Canadians Billy Talent. Continuing this tradition gearing up for their Jade Tree debut we get this 7-inch. The A-side is labeled with the B-side's song but actually plays "Dangerous Fumes," while the B-side is labeled similarly erroneous. Gosh darn, these plucky Canucks got me again.
Once you get past the mix-up, the title song rips past in true Fucked Up form. It is a short catchy and melodic hardcore number, however when I say that I don't mean in the mid-to-late-`90s melodicore sense. The band often sites Ireland's the Undertones as a major influence -- you can see this in 10,000 Marbles and Concentration Camps' guitar parts. Often-times they sound simple and somewhat poppy, almost like you've heard them before, but you haven't. Vocally, Pink Eyes stays to his usual gruff bark, except in the closing seconds of the song where he attempts to actually sing. This singing is not out of place though, because like a lot of what the band does it is performed with a smirk. Lyrically the song is confusing, dealing with some corrosion of society. There are also allusions to mind control and paints a picture -- perhaps the band themselves playing in a dirty club, giving off "dangerous fumes" if you will. "Smell the fumes that we smell and you're smiling / we want the world and the whole world is buying / you can't see straight you thought maybe we lied? / about the shit that we peddle / you're fucking stumped you've got nothing you're dumped / the fumes were too strong we got into your mind."
The B-side, "Teenage Problems" is the main attraction of the disc, and it will likely cause more of the same confusion/controversy. The song opens up with an old-timey sound clip with a French accented man singing about little girls. This is perhaps the most off-putting and unsettling sound clip I have heard in recent memory; kudos Fucked Up, kudos. Once the real song kicks in, musically it reveals itself to be one of the most poppy sounding and accessible songs by the band this reviewer has heard. There isn't anything wrong with that -- I commend them for taking more of that early punk-pop influence to heart. Where things start to get into the realm of a gray area is within the lyrical content. The topic in question appears to be that of pedophilia, in that of an old man and a little girl and it is creepy as all hell. For example: "I hand her a white rose / she holds it to her nose / just freshly picked, her finger pricked / she doesn't bleed a bit / I see the world through her young eyes / and put my trust between her thighs." Fucked Up is begging to be called a pack of pedophiles here, but that is part of the fun, to go along with the poppy melody and infectious chorus. What are the true aims of this song? To shock and stir up trouble? To expand the boundaries of artistic expression? To make some roundabout commentary on exploitation of the weak? Questions. Questions are what we are left with.
A fine legacy was started with early wave punk bands where some of their better material was on non-album singles. Fucked Up continue this legacy both sonically and aesthetically in this highly enjoyable single. It is short, reasonably fast, literate, has a sense of humour and above all else makes you think. As a listener you might be turned off by the subject matter of the second side and Pink Eyes' voice isn't the most tuneful, but otherwise, Fucked Up have a lot to offer those who aren't faint of heart. I guess like the punk bands of yore, Fucked Up are one of the few bands that show us if anything punk can be dangerous in some ways still (even if it's just to make Billy Talent fans defensive). Plus, there is a really interesting/creepy picture on the back sleeve of some witch-like (crooked nose kind) priest doing something to a knight.