It’s impossible to pinpoint the second hardcore punk became ingrained in indie culture, but if there is a singular band to credit with bringing the style into vogue, it’s Toronto’s Fucked Up. With several trappings of hardcore’s sub-genres—the mysterious, Youth Attack!-styled covers, the vast storytelling ability, and the multifaceted onslaught that recalls different pockets of ’80s hardcore—Fucked Up became hardcore for people who both do and don’t like the genre. Its albums were sprawling feats, each one conceptually dense and musically aggressive while always remaining accessible. Each full-length has served as a different mark along the band’s evolutionary chart, and its latest, Glass Boys, sees Fucked Up standing fully erect, towering above its past.
Of note is the band’s unconventional approach to recording drums—drummer Jonah Falco recorded up to four simultaneous takes, some combination of which will be released on different deluxe versions of the album. And this approach resulted in something that’s trippy yet massive, showing the influence of Fugazi’s Brendan Canty in Fucked Up’s rhythm section. “Echo Boomer” establishes the album’s ethos with guitar chords that ring out as Falco’s start-stop snare hits forgo the band’s classic 4/4 meters for something as progressive as the sprawling stories it often tells. Damian “Pink Eyes” Abraham still brings his growling vocals to the table, a sound that remains in stark opposition to the music it’s placed atop. (Musically, 2011’s David Comes To Life could have passed for Cheap Trick’s most inspired work.) The bridge to “Warm Change” continues this classic-rock appropriation hinted at on David, as the guitars soar with fuzzy solos before stepping on the toes of The Doors with a rich organ line playing it out.
Glass Boys touts the shortest runtime of any Fucked Up full-length album. Though the songs are no less adventurous than what the band’s done before, they offer a higher replay value than previous orchestrations. “Paper The House” boasts the album’s most anthemic guitars, pairing nicely with the groove-infused drumming that opens it, all building to the album’s catchiest chorus, one that could easily be a holdover from David. Furthering the post-hardcore allusions, “DET” is introduced with lumbering riffs that could have found a home on Jawbox’s opus For Your Own Special Sweetheart, and on the album’s title track Fucked Up shows every side of its face. “Glass Boys” reveals Fucked Up is hardly limited by a genre or an attached prefix, allowing the band to do whatever it desires without ever needing to explain it. It’s that mindset Fucked Up has built a career on, and with Glass Boys the band takes another evolutionary leap without leaving anyone pining for the past.