Fucked Up - Dose Your Dreams - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Fucked Up - Dose Your Dreams

by Tim Sentz Rating:8 Release Date:2018-10-05
Fucked Up - Dose Your Dreams
Fucked Up - Dose Your Dreams

Toronto hardcore punk band Fucked Up have always flirted with pop, most notably on their excellent 2011 album David Comes to Life. Weaving the hardcore elements with the pop elements has always been a tricky task – their peers Titus Andronicus have managed it a few times like on their 2015 album The Most Lamentable Tragedy, but others like Pissed Jeans haven’t mastered it yet. Merging the two seems like an impossible task but Fucked Up employ a secret weapon that Titus did so effectively on The Monitor – female backing vocals.

Part of what made David Comes to Life such a success was the band’s ability to pair aggressive vocals from Damian Abraham with the sweetly rendered stylings of Jennifer Castle on “The Other Shoe.” After the lukewarm reception to Glass Boys, the punkers return with an 80+ minute devastating exploration of modern life. “Raise Your Voice Joyce” recalls “The Other Shoe” by pairing dual vocalists again, but what separates Dose Your Dreams from David is the considerable amount of pop experimentation that the band hasn’t managed to truly perfect until now. “Normal People” uses horn sections, and pop-punk style verses that usually seem foreign on a Fucked Up record, but on Dose, it perfectly highlights their ability to craft sensible and engaging anthems.

Everything about Dose Your Dreams screams (literally and figuratively) maturity. After 12+ years as a band, Fucked Up resume their stride after Glass Boys – which, isn’t terrible, it’s just their weakest to date – “Torch to Light” is jammy punk rock with folk harmonies and electronic beat-like progressions. Whereas some bands hesitate to make this kind of grand leap, Fucked Up embrace it entirely but lose none of their edge. In fact, Fucked Up sound almost playful on Dose Your Dreams – the title track incorporates a funky bass line, Dire Straits style choruses and synths, but still maintaining that edge they’ve had since their debut. “Came Down Wrong” features J. Mascis commanding vocals anchoring a radio-friendliness rarely heard from the band, and “Love Is An Island In the Sea” tosses the mic to Jonah Falco for a folk-pop influenced break before the massive closer “Joy Stops Time.”

If there’s an issue with Dose Your Dreams it comes from the sheer exhaustion of listening to something so expansive. It’s best tackled in increments – the band whips the audience back and forth, pulling in several directions over the course of its 80 minutes, with little breathing room. It’s astonishing actually, to have an album so tremendous in scope to be without a breather. Titus Andronicus’ The Most Lamentable Tragedy stacked several suites of punk into its double-disc set but still gave room for the audience to take a minute to catch up. Dose Your Dreams doesn’t cleanse the palette very often, and those uninitiated to Fucked Up’s world will find it a bitter pill to swallow at times, but when the cleanse does come in the form of the dream-poppy “How to Die Happy” and the electronic “Two I’s Closed,” it’s refreshing, if not a bit overdue.

Fucked Up are 5 LPs deep now, and show no signs of slowing down, but more importantly aren’t afraid to shake things up with their formula. Abraham shares vocal responsibilities with multiple band members across the album, offering up some new tendencies and exhilarating moments. And while the length of the album may be intimidating to some, the journey through Dose Your Dreams is worth it. It twists and turns in unexpected ways – “Mechanical Bull” might be the best representation of Dose Your Dreams adventurous nature: it’s a bold and glitchy track but still incorporates Abrahams violent snarl with such bombastic results. Dose Your Dreams isn’t likely to turn heads the same way The Chemistry of Common Life did a decade ago, but it’s a wonderful example of a band taking their sound in exciting directions.

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