Fucked Up - Dose Your Dreams (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Fucked Up

Dose Your Dreams (2018)


As a guilty party myself, I’m able to point fingers: we’ve all focused a little bit too much on the Fucked Up soap opera. “Waaah, Mike and Damian don’t get along!” “Waaah, the band might break up!” “Waaah, the band has…. Gasp… poor communication skills!” Well, what band isn’t dysfunctional? Shocker, people that spend thousands of hours together in the studio and spend months together on the road in intimate settings don’t always get along. Now, to be fair, Fucked Up has, to a degree, embraced the voyeuristic angle, using Glass Boys as a meta-reflection of themselves.

But, this is where many of us, myself included, made a misstep. The power of Fucked Up does not come from the fact that they can grate on each other. The power of Fucked Up comes from the fact that they are composed of six highly creative, highly motivated, highly weird people. Dose Your Dreams, their new expansive double disc that zaps from cosmos to cosmos, seeks to prove this… and it does, quite handily.

The album again finds us running into band protagonist/symbol/abstract ideal David Eliade. After the ourboros ruination of David Comes to Life, he’s now older and more miserable, caught working a normie job. He runs into Joyce, an older woman who lost her lover some time ago in a trans-temporal/cross-dimensional journey. She sends David into the void to find the guy and our hapless hero crosses dimensions of 2001:Space Odyssey proportions looking for the lost fellow, all while uncovering who David himself really is. If it sounds ambitious and kind of crazy, it is. And this is why Fucked Up are one of the greatest bands, punk or otherwise, of the 21st century. Not only do they have the cajones to swing for it, but they usually connect and when they connect, they nail it out of the ballpark… and dimension.

Recorded in parts and mostly directed by guitarist Mike Halichuck and drummer Jonah Falco as they came across random instruments, Dose Your Dreams finds the band melding every weird piece they can into a single unit. “Hose of Keys” begins with a Gary Numan buzz before snapping into Fucked Up’s unique brand of choppy, thick hardcore. “Love is an Island in the Sea,” could easily pass for a Belle & Sebastian tune. “Normal People” sits somewhere between synth-hits of the ‘80s and college rock’s greatest hits. That is to say, the band swims from territory to territory with ease and grace. Instead of being perverse and making the contrasts jarring, or even obvious, the band finds the connective thread of these forms and shifts from scene to scene, often within the same track. I’d call it Melvins-esque or Hawkwindian, and that’s one of the biggest compliments I can think of.

Clearly, the nature of reality weighs heavily on the band’s collective mind. Instead of focusing inward as they did during the 2014 era, they gaze outward at the machinations of the universe. “House of Keys” finds David talking about death with an angel- tellingly, the angel reveals little despite the fact that she is identified as an “Angel.” On “Living in a Simulation,” David sees universes built inside universes built inside universes and realizes that even he might not be real. Way back when, Fucked Up would cover Integrity, who often expressed ideas germinated from Gnosticism, so one can see the influence. But, this isn’t mere mimicry. Whereas Integrity liked to scoff at the grand gears of existence, Fucked Up seems more at peace with understanding the big picture even without understanding what the big picture is. That is, Fucked Up seem to take some relief in the mere guess that there is more outside of the picture frame than is in it.

As they are wont to do, the band has brought in a small army of collaborators. Owen Pallett brings some violin. Miya Folcik and Jennifer Castle take the vocals on a track each. Even Falco’s mom blasts on the sax on a number of tracks, walking the line between wild rock n roll and trippy space music. Haliechuck and Falco are musicans, but they’re apt directors as well, stitching this legion into one solid unit. Nothing herein seems out of place, despite the expanse of it all. Somehow, they’re able to drip that kinda druggy, kinda sci-fi nerd scene over everything and make it all stick together. Some talk has been made of lead vocalist Damian Abraham only taking vocals on about 2/3 of the songs here. But, it doesn’t seem that this is a “layoff.” If anything, because most of the others singers here are crooners, when Abraham comes in with his haymaker growl (nasty as ever, thankfully) it gives him that much more punch. One of the things that especially worked well on the Year of the Dragon zodiac 12-inch was that Abraham and Haliechuk each gave the other space to do their thang and to show why their thang was so special. That goes doubly so here. As the band admits, Abraham functioned more as an instrument for Haliechuck to use on this record than as an independent musician. But, that’s okay. Abraham is still essential. Swipe the trumpet from Louis Armstrong, and you still have got a great singer, but it’s not quite the same without those “boop-dee-boop” horns after he sings “Dolly, never go away again!”

Dose Your Dreams feels like a fresh breath for the band. With all the heavy meta-survey of their most recent releases spit out, it sounds like the band is floating upwards, and perhaps just as importantly, having a lot of fun. By focusing outward and looking at hopes and dreams- what might be mankind’s most powerful strength- the band has expanded past their initial boundaries and have set them self up for another golden era, which coincidentally, is what they themselves were aspiring to do with this very release. So, even when they’re not talking about themselves, they’re still talking about themselves. What a perfect infinity shaped puzzle for a band like this. No matter which veil you tear down, there’s another veil behind it, and if you keep ripping them down, you wind up in a place that you swear that seen before.