Fucked Up: David Comes to Life (Matador) 

If hardcore is the music of male aggression—which, let's be honest, it totally is—then Fucked Up discovers hidden multitudes of feeling within it. More specifically, they push beyond aggression to total vulnerability. Damian Abraham's tinny sneer is really, like many punks who came before him, the man wearing his heart on his sleeve.

David Comes to Life is the record people who think they don't like hardcore should hear all the way through. Fucked Up treats punk as theater—note Abraham's belief that he owes his concert audience a "blood offering"—and David exploits that to the fullest. It's framed as an epic ersatz musical; it's preoccupied with matters of the heart as much as it is matters of state, and, as such, it turns punk's subtextual melodrama into text.

The album is even more sonically ambitious than 2008's The Chemistry of Common Life. Songs play as soundscapes, and never tediously. And the guitars! They're throaty on "I Was There," psychedelic on "Ship of Fools" ("the flower and the bee!"), and deeply layered on "Queen of Hearts." They're uniformly gorgeous. Fucked Up's a musical band with cinematic sweep.

"There's still so many things I'll never know / As the lights go up and the curtains close," Abraham sings on closer "Lights Go Up." Everything's been risked; everything's been lost. The only thing to do is return to the first track and listen to the whole damn thing again.

More by Sean Bottai


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