Fucked Up - One Day (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Fucked Up

One Day (2023)


The core concept of One Day is that all the individual parts were written and recorded in one day (albeit, broken up in blocks). It’s a great challenge for the band because as the massive Year of the Horse and long-gestating Oberon proved, the band likes to take their time, meticulously piecing albums together bit by bit, over many years.

I think back to the dynamic of Crass’ Christ: the Album which the band recorded over of a year, and its follow up, Yes Sir, I will which was recorded in the same amount of time it takes to listen to it. There, Crass was making the point that the massive concept album was indulgent and that there wasn’t time to make “pretty music.” But that same perspective, when applied to Fucked up, yields wildly different results. To a degree, Crass eschewed the “concept” record for being too self-indulgent, whereas Fucked Up, asks, can we make massive art in a short amount of time?

As with all things Fucked Up, One Day is massive, even if it is short by comparison. Again, the sound is huge with layered guitars and ghostly layered background vocals. Singer Damian Abraham’s bark is a blasted out as ever. But, whereas Fucked up is sometimes dark and scary, here the sound is positively bright. Even though Damian is growling, it’s an interesting juxtaposition that he doesn’t come across as mean- he’s actually deep in self contemplation here. See songs like “Broken Little Boys” and “Roar.” I particularly like the fact that most singers would use these lyrics as a moment to get quiet and monotone and so dreadfully TENDER, but Damian makes the artistic decision to sing like he’s fronting Integrity.

Guitarist Mike Haliechuk, who has directed the past few FU vehicles in full, is still evolving his guitar work. He always plays it big and broad but her slips in some Robert Fripp-ish guitar slicing on the title track. “Cicada,” with its ringing chords, could fit on most ‘90s alt-rock records. Fucked up records are always dense so it’s a lot of fun to slice out individual layers and check out what’s going on.

The high recording concept mirrors the lyrical content in both Abraham and Haliechuk, who split the lyrics about 50/50, reflect on how the passing of time has affected the, Abraham looks back at what images and media affected his mind as a kid and how that has transformed him into who he is today. Later on, he contemplates how he was an entirely different person before becoming a father and how the year and his children have shaped him- as opposed to visa verse. On “Cicada,” Haliechuk laments a departed friend and how that person’s time was cut short and how even one more day with the person would be an unfathomable blessing. If you read the liner notes, they almost read like an obituary.

Despite the album’s reduced size, still, Fucked Up finds way to hide meaning behind meaning- sometimes the symbols presented here have keys and sometimes they are oblique with no way to be deciphered. One would think that with a self-imposed limitation, Fucked Up would suffer in either depth, grandiosity, or both. They don’t. Indeed, this album is yet another new riddle to add onto the band’s dozens of other puzzles- which is one of the things that keeps them the most fascinating and fun bands in punk rock… or in music. Even when Fucked Up thinks small, they’re huge.