“David Comes to Life” probably won’t be nominated for a Grammy, it won’t be one of those albums you see Best Buy sell for $6.99 and advertise in their circulars, and it probably won’t have any of its songs show up in TV ads, nor will they be played on your favorite late-night TV show (well, except for Greg Gutfeld’s “Red Eye”).
It’s all because the band is called Fucked Up. Is they were called Messed Up, Screwed Up, Fouled Up, or anything else, this Toronto-based punk/hardcore band would be all over the place, not only on the strength of this brand new opus, but on their crushing back catalog that’s both heavy and undeniably catchy. I do realize Cee-Lo Green’s smash hit “Fuck You” is everywhere. That’s because the song was given an alternate version “Forget You” so that it could be played on “Glee” and be in the soundtrack to every paint-by-numbers rom-com that comes out this year. Not so easy for a band called Fucked Up, who definitely would not be welcoming of such changes just to turn a buck.
If you’re not familiar with the band, go find the song “David Comes to Life,” from their full-length debut “Hidden World,” and tell me it isn’t a track that deserves to be trumpeted everywhere. Oh yeah, to be clear, that song isn’t on their new album of the same name. It’s confusing, but then again, so are Fucked Up. Their 18-cut new record is a rock opera, a four-movement story about a light bulb factory worker in 1970s England named David, who falls in love with Veronica, who together band together to fight oppression, only to have Victoria die during a bombing. David feels crushing guilt over losing the love of his life, because he thinks he’s responsible, and we get visits from his ex-girlfriend Vivian and narrator Octavio (who has something of a god complex) to flesh out the tale and eventually lead to David’s revival. It’s not an easy storyline to follow, and my rudimentary summary certainly is as bare bones as they come. Often it’s difficult to understand who’s even speaking to you, especially since hulking frontman Damian Abraham (aka Pink Eyes) handles both male characters, fitting since David and Octavio begin a sort of struggle over the telling of the plot. Cults’ Madeline Follin lends her lovely voice to Veronica, while singer/songwriter Jennifer Castle gives life to Vivian.
Plot confusion aside, the album itself is incredible, uplifting at times, rebellious at others, and always jammed full of both musical and vocal hooks that’ll have these songs burned into your brain by the time the album comes to an end 78 minutes after you hit play. While Fucked Up – their ranks also include lead guitarist Mike Haliechuk (10,000 Marbles), bassist Sandy Miranda (Mustard Gas), guitarist Josh Zucker (Concentration Camp/Gulag), and drummer Jonah Falco (Guinea Beat/Mr. Jo), among other contributors — certainly do have some abrasive moments that’ll remind long-time fans of the band’s past, they also branch out quite a bit here, with dashes of Midwestern rock, prog, and even some sections that remind of the heyday of The Who. That’s quite fitting considering that anthemic tales told by Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend over the years, and their influences can be felt here, whether that was intended or not.
The five-song opening suite is highlighted by “Queen of Hearts,” a kick-ass number that has David and Veronica falling in love, with Abraham and Follin seamlessly trading lines and blending their stories. All the while, David keeps “waiting for another shoe to drop,” which it finally does on the second part, where Veronica dies. Guilt and despair rise up and capture David, the music sounds like awesome classic rock radio fodder on “Running on Nothing” and “Remember My Name,” and the section ends on a sad note, with raspy “Serve Me Right.” The third section finds Octavio taking a larger role in the play, and Vivian also works her way into the scene, with the piece peaking on the glam-punk awesomeness of “Ship of Fools.” The final five-cut section opens with “I Was There,” which has the hard-edged sensibilities of a band like The Foo Fighters, while “The Recursive Girl” mixes punk and classic rock guitar, and closer “Lights Go Up” is the curtain dropper, a song where David realizes, “Ours wasn’t a love for an audience.” It’s a lot to take in, for sure, and a lyric sheet is a necessity to even begin to completely comprehend everything that’s happening here (especially the very meta undertones), but you won’t mind as you’re being captured and stampeded by the music.
Fucked Up may not be a metal band, obviously, but there certainly is some crossover appeal. But whether it’s metal or not is beside the point. I said long ago this blog would go beyond metal’s realms when I felt the need to do so, and shining a light on this excellent album “David Comes to Life” is one of those times. This is just a great album, a landmark-style achievement for this band, and a generational happening. Few bands could pull this off, and even fewer should try it. But Fucked Up are one of those rare entities that are truly special and, when all the other bands of this era who are only here fleetingly finally fade away, this tandem will still be there, fighting and clawing their way to the top of the rubble, apparently “offensive” name be damned.
For more on the band, go here: http://lookingforgold.blogspot.com/
For more on the album (including lyrics), go here: http://www.davidcomestolife.com/
To visit their Wikipedia page, go here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fucked_Up
To buy the album, go here: http://store.matadorrecords.com/featured/david-comes-to-life
For more on the label, go here: http://www.matadorrecords.com/