You are Fucked Up, a hazy hardcore outfit from the frozen north of Canada. You've been making songs at a breakneck pace for about five years now. Your Internet stock is as high as it has ever been. Your most recent album, The Chemistry of Common Life, is your most profitable and well-received release to date. Such is your ubiquity that your lead singer is able to land a gig as commentator for Fox News.
So what do you do now? Wait, you don't know? Record a new album? Shit, no! What the fuck is wrong with you?
You release a singles compilation, idiot. That's what Fucked Up did with Couple Tracks: Singles 2002-2009. (See, this is why you'll never be Fucked Up.)
First things first: If you are at all interested in buying this record in some way, getting the physical copy is a must. The liner notes to this double-album monster are a dream come true for obsessive music fans. It lists where every song first appeared in the Fucked Up catalog, as well as a little fun fact about where the song was recorded / why it was recorded / how the band feels about it, and makes for a total bitching compendium to the non-stop punk.
Serving as a "get to know your Fucked Up" kind of thing, Couple Tracks is an intimidating behemoth of fast, screamy punk music. The comp starts out with the band's first song ever, "No Pasaran," a kind-of-shitty tune with an overlong intro (the liner notes note that the band has "weird feelings about this track now." See? See how cool the liner notes are?). From that point, it's just an hour and change of career-spanning singles with a focus of acclimating newcomers to what's been going on for the last seven years.
There isn't really a rhyme or reason to the arrangement of tracks, so there is not much flow to the comp. This makes it somewhat daunting to listen to all in one sitting, as songs can tend to meld together into one long buzzsaw factory. As all these tracks are singles, they are all on the more melodic end of the Fucked Up spectrum, which contributes to the sameness.
Some standout tracks: The aptly named "Neat Parts" is an early album highlight. "David Christmas" is a well-produced punk song with a touch of musical theater thrown in towards the beginning. Twee covers "Anorak City" and "I Don't Wanna Be Friends with You" come from an obvious place of love, and make them all the more endearing (finally, some Fucked Up tracks me and my girlfriend can agree on).
Some not-so-standout tracks: The aforementioned "No Pasaran," the single versions of "No Epiphany" and "Crooked Head" (sounded way better on Chemistry), the overlong "Triumph of Life" and the too-gnarly "Last Man Standing."
While it is by no means required listening, Couple Tracks is certainly worth it for newcomers and short-time fans of an up-and-coming experimental punk band. And while it never achieves an album feel, it's got enough short blasts of quality to make it worth the money. Just make sure you get the physical copy.