Fucked Up - Year of the Hare (Cover Artwork)

Fucked Up

Year of the Hare (2015)


Somewhere along the way between the start of their Zodiac series and 2011's dense, but rewarding David Comes to Life, Fucked Up evolved from the hardcore band going through an "experimental" phase to a full fledged genre pushing outfit. The Fucked Up that gave us "Police" is just a speck in the rearview mirror at this point. Armed with art by Deathwish label head/Converge member Jacob Bannon and a slew of collaborators, Year of the Hare sees the band delivering yet another 20 minute behemoth. Some curiosity may be roused by this installment, since last year's Glass Boys seemed like a stylistic step back for the band. A solid affair all around, the album sounded like the work of a band that realized they had gone as big as they can, so they turned around to head back to where they started.

Year of the Hare sees Fucked Up returning to their more ambitious side, creating 29 minutes of bounding hardcore influenced sprawl. "Year of the Hare" starts with a small ambient ring before pleasant acoustic guitars take the lead and eventually dissipate. The guitars dissolve and give way to silence which is interrupted by piano, which feels awfully disjointed and thrown together. 4 minutes in and the track feels like the band is just noodling and throwing in discarded instrumental pieces. Obviously this is disappointing, since the band has some definite compositional chops that they're not properly utilizing here. However, off-putting "glitches" start to appear, hinting at crunching guitars lurking underneath. Finally, after 6 minutes, the song starts proper, and the band launches into an extended jam that would not be out of place on David Comes to Life if not for it's running time.

"Year of the Hare" premiered in loops on an interactive game/video posted on the band's website. The video depicted a 9 to 5 worker trudging through his day. His frustration was palatable, and not just because his suffering was relatable, but because the game was difficult to navigate. That gripe aside, the song delivers exactly what you would expect from a Fucked Up zodiac release: varied instrumentation, experimentation with song form, and throttling guitars. A little over halfway through the song, a female voice rises above the murky, lurching guitars to contrast Damien Abraham's throaty growl. Even though the zodiac series is primarily a sandbox for the band to play and experiment in, it's hard not to feel like the band is just hitting all the notes they are expected to. Those familiar with Year of the Tiger and Year of the Ox won't be surprised by this new song. It's definitely enjoyable, but it doesn't reach the heights of series highlight Year of the Pig.

B-side "California Cold" has a dirty, southern vibe right from the opening, which includes distorted acoustic guitars and distant vocals. The 8 minute track bursts forth before calming down with a psych rock midsection with a Spacemen 3 feel to it. The song builds momentum as the guitars drown out, ending in a mangled rumble.

Fucked Up have worked in some disorienting starts and stops here that have varying degrees of dynamic success, depending on the section of the song. The beginning of the song feels awkward and lethargic, but the pauses/interludes in the back half actually inject some energy, preventing the track from feeling repetitive. Experiments don't always have to be strictly successes or failures, sometimes it's just a mixed bag.