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September 26, 2006

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If there’s one hardcore band always up for pissing in the face of punk expectations, it’s Toronto’s Fucked Up. They’ve ditched the classic blueprint (short, fast, direct, abrasive) found on their earlier EPs in favor of a debut full-length that is genuinely fucked up: an epic (because “proggy” is way too Dungeons & Dragons for what these guys are doing), metal-free hardcore punk album that simultaneously recalls Negative Approach’s beatdown anthem “Ready To Fight” and the Subhumans’ ambitious “From The Cradle To The Grave” (as well as the triumphant-pop leanings of, say, U2 and Echo And The Bunnymen). Expansive song structures, many reaching past six minutes, boast very un-hardcore instrumentation such as piano, marimba and violin, the latter provided by the also-very-un-hardcore Arcade Fire’s Owen Pallet. “Baiting The Public” is probably the album’s most lyrically straightforward. When Pink Eyes, a.k.a. Father Damian, shouts “I want to smash your house/I want to scratch your car/I want to fuck your wife/I want to break your life,” it’s one of few moments where you know exactly what he’s talking about. The rest of the lyrics come off like the cryptic metaphysical meditations of a sleep-deprived philosophy student—the kind of thing spawned from too many late nights, too much espresso and too many History Channel docs on the ancient world. Clocking in at a little over an hour, it may take a while to get used to hearing a punk record this long. Just don’t write it off as the snooze-fest you’d expect to get from listening to the Circle Jerks’ Group Sex three times in a row or from Minor Threat covering Rush. Hidden World hits fast and hard, albeit a lot longer and a lot weirder.

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