For nearly six years since their inception, Toronto’s hardcore darlings Fucked Up have remained one of the underground’s best-kept secrets. Playing to sweat-soaked crowds in cramped venues both at home and on international soil, Fucked Up have amassed a diehard following. But with the release of Hidden World, the band’s first full-length album, their obscurity is rapidly dissipating.
The album is a 72-minute opus, a daunting, almost blasphemous concept in the realm of hardcore; it’s also garnered Fucked Up the attention they’ve been waiting for. Hidden World descends on its listeners like a pulverising swathe of feral cries and rasping overtones. Not only epic in length but in presence, this album saw Fucked Up immerse themselves fully in boundary pushing as they embraced the cerebral and avant-garde.
The move to release a full-length album marked a transition from Fucked Up’s traditional formats of seven-inches and split recordings. Though they say they were rushed in the studio (the label was “flipping out” because Fucked Up originally said the album would cost about $2,000; it ended up totalling around $12,000), Mr. Jo says it was like “night and day” from their previous recordings. Used to smaller studios, this time around they had access to a broader technological playground, and producer Jon Drew was working his magic, giving the band their first experience with “an actual producer.”
But not only is Hidden World a new direction in format, it also demonstrates the band’s impetus to create a divergent identity for each song. “Lyrically, ?°»Triumph of Life’ was the song that represents our best efforts to try and ply something really sketchy into something really presentable,” says guitarist 10,000 Marbles. “When we wrote that song that was sort of the dividing line between the old and the new Fucked Up. We really stretched it out and it’s a good crossroads I think.”
The result of all these fresh directions is a masterful, evocative album that encapsulates the band’s evolutionary meanderings. “I think for all the weird stuff we did that it’s still a pretty straight-ahead record,” says Mr. Jo, pointing out that Hidden World is the most work Fucked Up have ever put into anything.
Part of what makes it so captivating is the first impression Hidden World creates, which is of a band that refuse to falter on their vision. Fucked Up aren’t afraid to transcend genres or play with tradition. Melding melodic nuances, unswervingly harsh vocals, and elaborate gleams of mid-tempo rock’n’roll, Fucked Up draw heavily on experimental aesthetics while at the same time sticking close to early ’80s hardcore, which has been a resounding influence throughout their career.
But there is the question of whether Hidden World’s overt ambition will alienate the cult following the band have amassed over time. And as far as the fans are concerned, 10,000 Marbles says he hasn’t seen Hidden World create much of a divide. “It sort of feels like at this point we could do the most insane, weird shit and it wouldn’t make any difference. It would still be the same six nerds at the front of the stage.”
#1 Punk Album of the Year