To say a record is prog-punk might come across as double-dutch; although it’s not out of the realms of possibility unlike stating someone is a vegan-meat-eater or a Trump supporting-rational human being, for example. When it comes to the confines of punk-rock, Fucked Up obliterated them years ago, this isn’t a band that rattle out sub 2-minute hardcore stormers, they’re more inclined to release a ‘rock opera’, like they did for third record ‘David Comes to Life’ or play a 12 hour long show with a revolving cast of contributors. Suffice to say, where convention is concerned, Fucked Up couldn’t give…well, two fucks.
For their fifth LP ‘Dose Your Dreams’, the Toronto collective are again pushing their sonic envelope as far as it can go; frontman Damian Abraham’s formidable bark is still omnipresent, rubberstamping a hardcore leaning to a number of tracks, regardless of whether guitars roar, strings swoon or electronics burble. Elsewhere the punk-innovators skip from expansive post-punk, cinematic widescreen beauty, rough ‘n’ ready digital maelstroms, saxophone indebted jazziness, woozy prog rock and even woozier universes as simulations within simulations. Meanwhile, Lloyd—Joyce’s lover—was sent, decades ago, by Joyce on the same odyssey, but was lost in the void. Lloyd seeks to psyche rock. Oh, and there’s some punk in there somewhere. If we’re talking scale here – it’s fucking huge.
‘Dose Your Dreams’ is a musically ambitious record, but conceptually, Fucked Up have woven in an intriguing narrative amongst the shifting soundscapes. To reference the album’s press release “As with ‘David Comes to Life’, there is a story here. David—who once came to life—is now indentured to a desk job. David meets the elderly Joyce who closes his eyes, opens his mind, and sends him on a spiritual journey. David embarks on his own metaphysical odyssey. He sees a stage adaptation of his own life. He speaks to an angel in a lightbulb. He sees an infinite series of universes as simulations within simulations. Meanwhile, Lloyd—Joyce’s lover—was sent, decades ago, by Joyce on the same odyssey, but was lost in the void. Lloyd seeks topsyche rock. Oh, and there’s some punk in there somewhere. If we’re talking scale here – it’s fucking huge. be found and reunited with his lover. Where will David end up? Will Joyce and Lloyd be reunited?” You see what I mean by ambitious and conceptual.
‘Dose Your Dreams’ is fuelled by a rich creativity and if there is one word that sums up the record perfectly from the press release its odyssey. It’s like stepping into a weird, gritty, fantasy film, where the world in front of you seems normal but peek behind the curtain and a landscape of wonder awaits you. String arranger Owen Pallet’s reaction to earlier cuts from the album hit the nail on the head “My god, Fucked Up have made their “Screamadelica” (Primal Scream). While it’s not the full on euphoric adventure that Bobby Gillespie and co cooked up way back when, although the Canadian’s tip their toe into that kaleidoscopic world of shifting colourful motifs but it’s more the sheer scale and the completeness of ‘Dose Your Dreams’ that grabs you. Yes, it’s a got a broad and eclectic palette to work from and it could have turned out to be a big old, indulgent mess but instead, the LP has been given creative freedom, with a firm intent on forging something focused.
As you embark on the first spin on ‘Dose Your Dreams’ imagine a black clad Morpheus is in-front of you uttering these time-honoured words “This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take theblue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.” I’ve taken the red pill – what you will do?
Words and thoughts of Adam Williams