Fucked Up - The Chemistry of Common Life (Cover Artwork)

Fucked Up

Fucked Up: The Chemistry of Common LifeThe Chemistry of Common Life (2008)
Matador Records

Reviewer Rating: 4
User Rating:

Contributed by: douglas_is_raddouglas_is_rad
(others by this writer | submit your own)

Fucked Up seems to continuously catch shit. Their old fans hate hate their new sound (three guitarists in a hardcore punk band?), while their new fans either disown or are oblivious to their older, more raw material ("Generations"? It's like one riff over and over again.). This rift can be easily se.
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Fucked Up seems to continuously catch shit. Their old fans hate hate their new sound (three guitarists in a hardcore punk band?), while their new fans either disown or are oblivious to their older, more raw material ("Generations"? It's like one riff over and over again.). This rift can be easily seen at their shows, where fat smelly guys throw bottles at people during songs like "Police" while skinny girls in V-necks dance to "I Hate Summer." In the middle of the "mosh pit politics" stands the band's music, which, when viewed objectively, stands on its own two feet as shockingly original and incomparable punk rock. But this begs the questions: Can these two oppositional sub-cultures be united in support of any of the band's material? Is there any middle ground these two fans can agree upon? Could Fucked Up's newest album be some sort of countercultural epoxy?

The band's last full-length, Hidden World, was a veritable magnum opus of hardcore punk music: a 70+-minute long album that blended mid-tempo hardcore perfectly with indie-ish noise rock. The Chemistry of Common Life, while leaning a little more towards the "experimental noise rock" side of the spectrum, is an excellent companion to Hidden World, and a very logical next step for the band. The album opens with a flute solo and some experimental layered guitar tracks, thus setting the instrumental tone of the album. It then rockets into action with a scream from Pink Eyes (vocalist) as the first track "Son the Father" begins. The song, which is both fairly fast and definitely intense, lays down a solid jumping off point for the rest of the album.

The two main themes of The Chemistry of Common Life, organized religion and psychedelics, resound throughout the album with various connotations attached to them. As with previous Fucked Up releases, the lyrics are shockingly poetic and extremely intellectual. It's almost a shame that Pink Eyes makes the majority of them incomprehensible; however, without him the band would certainly lose much of its intensity. I would highly recommend that everyone find a copy of the lyrics to read along with the songs, as they compliment the complexity of the music.

Musically, the band is all over the place with various experiments. "Golden Seal," a brooding instrumental piece, arguably (there have been instrumental tunes on various B-sides) presents the listener with the band's foray into pure noise music. On the other end of the spectrum lies the band's first attempt at a poppy sound with one of the album's standout tracks (both musically and lyrically), "Black Albino Bones." In between those two extremes are duets ("Royal Swan"), slower melodic tunes ("No Epiphany," another standout track), and more traditional "Fucked Up" songs ("Days of Last"). While some of these experiments fall flat, the majority of them work very well. On a personal aside, I felt like the two instrumental tracks detracted heavily from the overall flow of the album, and should have been more carefully placed or even omitted. "Golden Seal" really brings the album to a screeching halt after the aural explosions of "Son the Father" and "Magic Word."

Noticeably gone is the increidbly weird instrumentation; there are no string interludes, whistling outros or violin solos on the record. Aside from the flute intro, and an almost unnoticeable French horn on "Days of Last," the expirimentalism is left entirely to the guitarists and vocalists. The presence of recently recruited third guitarist Young Governor (Ben Cook of No Warning fame) is felt throughout the album, as his presence allowed lead guitarist 10,000 Marbles to increase the number of layered guitar tracks greatly from Hidden World, giving the album both a grander feeling and a larger sense of experimentalism. Rounding out the album is the title track, a seven- minute long beast that reminded me a lot of "Vivian Girls," the closing jam of Hidden World. The track thrashes to a finish with an undulating climax of hardcore noise punk (I just made a genre), thunder (literally) and very intense screaming, which (fittingly) concludes The Chemistry of Common Life in the most grandiose fashion.

Overall, the album presents itself as a very positive next step for the band. While not quite as good as Hidden World (which will probably serve as the band's critical comparison for the rest of their career), the album definitely deserves a lot of respect. Old fans may not find the album as appealing, but I think that anyone who enjoyed the band's last full-length will find something appealing about The Chemistry of Common Life.

To conclude both the review and my opening anecdote: Is The Chemistry of Common Life the great sub-cultural uniter? No. But it is an amazing album that will undoubtably be making many a critic's year of the end list.


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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
misterspike (November 4, 2009)

Wow. This album makes me angry that I ignored this band for so long.

taylorcasu (September 1, 2009)

This album has made a lot of "Best of 2008" lists, even Rolling Stone's and Pitchfork (SHUN!).

This is a good album, I love it how Fucked Up continue to break the 'hardcore' mould. What I don't like, however, is the number of hipster fags who seem to listen to them now (largely thanks to Pitchfork).


I know hardcore isn't exclusive, anyone has the right to listen to whatever they want. I sadly think this is going to have a negative effect on the band though. I don't want to hear poppy love ballads on their next release.

Hidden World still tops it for me though.

SouthernLovin (February 4, 2009)

My favorite album from last year. Maybe.

douglas_is_rad (October 21, 2008)

Apparently there is a vinyl only track... I just got my copy today (I had a legitimate copy while doing this review...). It's called The Peaceable Kingdom, and it's kind of cool.

nate_derby (October 20, 2008)

Albino Black Bones is arguably the best punk song of the year. This record rules even harder than Hidden World.

blip (October 20, 2008)

long time fucked up fan, really not into this album on the first listen. almost deleted it after spinning it once in fact. maybe ill try again.
yeah, you sound like a real fan. download their album and then immediately dismiss it.

dirtydacoitdan (October 20, 2008)

The mess that continues to impress! I really like this album. Nice review!

xshoutoutx (October 20, 2008)

12 hours show fucking ruled... and so did moby... and so did D4 and ther ergs! later on! best fuckin day of my life.

theyounginfluential (October 18, 2008)

was anyone else at the 12 hour show?

mikexdude (October 18, 2008)

Archangel, I love you. You're so right.

Begging the question = logical fallacy. Learn, people.

Archangel (October 18, 2008)

This record is amazing.

One other thing: People don't really understand what it means to "beg the question". Just stop trying to use it.

Grue (October 18, 2008)

Almost perfect. Black Albino Bones is the best track.

SlowStupidHungry (October 18, 2008)

"this band is a gimmick. now you can't say that anymore."

They are probably bummed that you're one of the few people they succeeded in pissing off.

This record is whatever. I liked them a lot more when they were more straight forward. Can't dig on this one too much (aside from "Days of Last" - song fuckin rules!) but I'm not reacting against it the way some people are.

mikexdude (October 18, 2008)

This is soo good.

asxyouxwish (October 18, 2008)

literally just came back from watching this band rule it in baltimore. score is for that show.

Rastid (October 18, 2008)

I don't agree with the first statement. I see and hear nothing but love for the band.

this band is a gimmick. now you can't say that anymore.

xote (October 18, 2008)

These guys never really sound to noisy at all... every review that says that is misleading but they are experimental and good.

theDrivingSnow (October 17, 2008)

I don't agree with the first statement. I see and hear nothing but love for the band.

diplodocuscore (October 17, 2008)

only heard one song, and it was damn good. have never tried to get into these guys but had to give em a listen when you said "hardcore noise punk" though you are not the first to string these words together. i was in a project that described ourselves in exactly that way, though it was more a mix of the locust and merzbow. anyway, i give it a ten for benefit of the doubt, what i heard was great. i'd really like to hear the noisier tracks you mentioned.

nocigar (October 17, 2008)

album of the year? HELL no.

douglas_is_rad (October 17, 2008)

Apparently the org bot knows how much I like this album:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v288/edward0/Picture1 .png

Seriously, I gave this album a 27/10...

victim (October 17, 2008)

I liked the first song (Son the Father) and the one with the line "hands up if you think you're the only one"..the more "experimental" stuff

But I felt that most of the songs that sounded closer to the stuff off Hidden World, just didn't live up to the same standard.

Not bad by any stretch, but not as epic as Hidden World IMO

Trauma16 (October 17, 2008)

Solid band. Good review. Very good album.

danperrone (October 17, 2008)

album of the year

xote (October 17, 2008)

Good review. This band just doesn't give a fuck and plays what they want and I fucking love it.

Bipedcasserole (October 17, 2008)

great review. throughly fuckable.

CCSummers (October 17, 2008)

I dont get it

R3vengeTherapy (October 17, 2008)

Epics in Minutes? Awesome (but not really a true LP).

Hidden World? Better. By a lot.

All the singles released outside of those two releases? Probably some of the best stand-alone tracks by any hardcore punk band. "Dropout" and "Teenage Problems" are some of my favorites.

And now, Chemistry of Common Life. Honestly, for me, this beats everything. Hidden World was a great "debut" LP, but it got to be a bit long winded. This takes all the things I love about Fucked Up and just amplifies it. I fucking love the near-shoegaze guitar work at times, and the overall experimentation of their sound. "Crooked Head" is one of the best songs of the year, without a doubt.

Problematiclogic (October 17, 2008)

This is a great album, but I still don't think I've played it enough yet.

'Son The Father', 'Magic Word' and 'Crooked Head' are incredible.

video_cognito (October 17, 2008)

I recently got into Fucked Up over the summer. It was kind of weird listening to this so soon after I got hooked on Hidden World, but it ended up becoming a great listen. I'm definitely digging this album and looking forward to catching them next week.

preston (October 17, 2008)

This record is pretty rad. Its awesome when a band can make hardcore sound original...not an easy task.

SloaneDaley (October 17, 2008)

yeah the divide at the shows have been pretty strange, you get hardcore punk fans that have been listening to them for a long while and then indie kids that'll act like you shit in their mouth if you show you are having a good time.

wallofyouth (October 17, 2008)

crooked head!

etwiels88 (October 17, 2008)

long time fucked up fan, really not into this album on the first listen. almost deleted it after spinning it once in fact. maybe ill try again.

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