35 Albums in 35 Years: 2008

In an ongoing attempt to bleed my opinions all over your computer screen, I’m selecting one album from every year that I’ve been alive that has some sort of significance to me…and then writing about it. Welcome back to 35 Albums in 35 Years.


fdup2008: Fucked Up’s The Chemistry of Common Life

There’s just something about a bald, bearded, naked, fat guy hoarsely yelling at the top of his lungs that does it for me. Fucked Up’s Damien Abraham is a total showman, channeling his band’s brand of hardcore punk rock music through his throat, sacrificing his body to the crowd (I’ve seen him get the shit kicked out of him in the mosh pit before), and ever smiling between sneers, offering sweaty hugs and high-fives to everyone, panting and bleeding for the duration of the performance. The other members of the band play their instruments fiercely but coolly, a step or two more reserved than their front man, but powerful nonetheless. If you’ve never had the pleasure of seeing a live Fucked Up show before, take immediate action to rectify that. They are one of the best live acts in the world.

The band first popped up on my radar with their 2008 release The Chemistry of Common Life, an album I may have entirely overlooked had it not been released on the always-excellent Matador label. I’m damn glad it was. And I’m damn glad I caught the band at Fun Fun Fun Fest the next year. I have been a Fucked Up junkie ever since.

Let’s talk about the music.

The guys and girls of Fucked Up make raucous hardcore punk rock, but it’s not hardcore punk in a traditional sense. There are occasional bits of instrumentation that stride outside of the guitar/bass/drums/screaming output one would normally be accustomed to. You might hear a flute (“Son the Father”), a rising burst of female chorus (“No Epiphany”), or a low-tempo instrumental jam that almost feels more movie score than hardcore (“Looking for God”). And it works wonderfully, making the album feel like one big, multifaceted piece of art, rather than just a collection of songs. That’s not to say that there are not moment of pure, growling, spitting bliss, because there most certainly are. Abraham’s voice sounds like he swallows shards of broken glass and then spits fire. There is never any question that you are in the presence of a hardcore band…you’re just listening to a well-versed and well-traveled hardcore band.

And a well-read hardcore band. On top of all the musical explorations that the band dabbles and experiments with, one of the album’s real strengths has to be the depth of the lyrics, an outright spiritual quest, an examination of religion as performed by non-believers, but intelligently, tactfully, and with eyes and ears wide open. There is no cynicism here, only a desire to find out what makes people tick and what makes life important, even if the answers are not the ones that we were looking for. Add some good, old-fashioned sex and drugs into the proverbial pot, and you get an album that’s firing on all cylinders, a heavy record that should appease the diehard ragers, but one broad enough to rope the rest of us in as well.

The band continues to explore new and interesting ideas, concepts, and sounds, and I will continue to see them live at each and every possibility. I owe Damien Abraham another hug and another high-five.

-Favorite song: “Son the Father”
-Runner up: “Days of Last”

Some other albums I almost wrote about instead: Principles of Geometry’s Lazare; Devastations’ Yes, U; Grouper’s Dragging a Dead Deer up a Hill; Crystal Castles’ Crystal Castles; Portishead’s Third; Midnight Juggernauts’ Dystopia; Get Well Soon’s Rest Now Weary Head, You Will Get Well Soon; King Khan and The Shrines’ The Supreme Genius of King Khan and The Shrines; Elbow’s The Seldom Seen Kid.



Thomas H Williams

Thomas H Williams

From a bunker somewhere in Central Texas, Thomas H. Williams spends most of his time with his wife, his two sons, and his increasingly neurotic dog. He listens to a lot of music, drinks a lot of excellent beers, and gets out from time to time. For even more shenanigans, visit heavenisanincubator.blogspot.com.

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