Fucked Up: Couple Tracks: Singles 2002-2009

RIYL: Pissed Jeans, Minor Threat, FEAR

Fucked Up’s The Chemistry of Common Life was the best album of the decade (if you ask me). The downside to releasing an album that good, of course, is that now they have some pretty high standards to live up to. Couple Tracks is actually composed entirely of material that pre-dates that masterpiece, culling from the band’s extensive 7” singles discography, most of which were never released digitally or even on CD. While it may be unfair to compare this earlier material to what came later, it’s impossible not to.

Luckily most of Couple Tracks comes close to living up to the high standards set forth by the band’s later work. “Triumph of Life” and “Black Hats” both hint at the wall of noise sound that was to come on The Chemistry of Common Life, and pulse-pounding, ready-made moshers like “Ban Violins” and “Dangerous Fumes” show that before Fucked Up was tearing down the boundaries of what it meant to be a hardcore band, they were working within the confines of the genre damn well. The band even lets their artistic and avant-garde guard down with a series of covers, which include “Anorak City” (originally by Another Sunny Day) and “I Don’t Want to Be Friends with You” (originally by the Shop Assistants). It’s silly, for sure, but it shows the rarely seen lighter side of Fucked Up, as they transform both songs into Ramones-style punk numbers. Also showing off the band’s sense of humor is “Generation,” which is a purposely stupid anthem song meant to rally the easily led.

Unfortunately there is a bit of filler on here. Early versions of album cuts “Crooked Head” and “No Epiphany” seem like pointless additions, and the live tracks from a Daytrotter session are fun, but more vinyl-only rarities would have been preferred. Still, if you’re a hardcore fan of the band but missed out the singles the first time around (or you just don’t have the turntable to play them), then this collection is pretty much essential. If you’re new to the band and only know The Chemistry Of Common Life the more straightforward sound of Couple Tracks might surprise you, but you’ll still find something to like. (Matador 2010)

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