I confess: I carry around a pack of preconceptions when I read that Fucked Up are the hardcore band that Pitchfork has decided to like but when I see words like "flute" I tend to move away quickly.
Well there's nothing like a singles comp to really evaluate a punk rock band. The single format demands that a band deliver and this collection stacks up a whole bunch of singles on top of each other. And gosh darn it it works. Fucked Up can swing the hammer, Mr. Pink Eyes can grunt and yelp nicely inna post-90s way and the band shows they can move past Clash-type moves and tuneful hardcore into a fairly accessible style all their own. I happen to think covering the The Shop Assistants was not the best move, but the b-side of a single is also the best way for a band to get that kind of stuff out of their system.
So yeah, maybe people who cringe at words like "modern hardcore" and stay a country mile away from bands like Converge can get into this. For me, the brevity and directness of the delivery on these songs is far preferable to Fucked Up's more recent excursions into longer song forms and added instrumentation. A double CD is more than overkill; I haven't brought myself to listen to both CDs in one sitting, and a blast of either one is fine by itself. As an introduction and an archive Couple Tracks does the trick.
Fucked Up are not exactly a new band. I'd even be willing to bet that the band looks back on most of this stuff fondly but is more focused on new songs and different structures. That's to be expected but they would be well served to remember the effectiveness of this material and rein in the temptation to add more length onto their songs. A combination of the strengths of the single with the daring of the recent album tracks could really be something. [Matador]
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