Glass Boys Album Review
Released June 3, 2014
Genre: Hardcore Punk, Experimental Rock
Being 20 is great. I haven’t amassed a single gram of weight since I moved out, I can drink six litres of gasoline nightly and run a 5K the next morning in addition to having unshaken emotional connections with a plethora of temporary suiters. Though, according to Toronto based hardcore outfit F**ked Up and new their record, Glass Boys, the decade to follow won’t be treasured through vermillion tinted lenses but will rather test the mettle and sanity as age becomes an unavoidable cross to bear.
As far as the instrumentation goes, F**ked Up’s breezy guitar lines in conjunction with crushing power-chords remain as simultaneously fresh and raucous as they did on previous releases. It’s a shame that this looming distortion occasionally blunts the poignancy of Glass Boys’ centrepiece, it’s lyrics.
Stand-out performances track after track, philosophical minotaur Damian Abraham exhibits an almost mythical level of awareness and sullen articulation through ear-spitting growls and yelps. As always, the rhythm sections are tight and guitars incendiary, seeming to get brighter and more melodic with every record – Glass Boys, and F**ked Up as a band, is arguably the world’s gateway into the realm of hardcore combining crucial elements of punk with accessible sentimentality, a rarified balance.
Having already conquered a concept album with their 2011 LP David Comes To Life, F**ked Up are adept masters thematically, carving notion and setting a tone immediately with opening track ‘Echo Boomer’, screaming prophetically of unchanging angst and traits that transcend age. A rebelling against the significance of sagging skin, Damian preaches of jaded hearts blinding us to the passion of youth that never stops glowing; waves of light and heat reverberate throughout as well. ‘Sun Glass’ and ‘Touch Stone’ permeate imagery of settling tinders that were once roaring cinnabars – while the delivery is fierce, it’s a dying shame that preconceptions of hardcore will hamper this record from getting the attention it deserves.
‘Art of Patrons’ is a testament to the tribulations of band life, the creeping anxiety and fatigue that’s overlooked for dreamscapes of show-business and artistic suffering. Damian drops reality bombs with articulate majesty as with ‘Warm Change’ as he snidely spits “Insert a coin to hear the band play / spend some time, then take your change” Barely cryptic but hard-hitting nonetheless though unfortunately the message is lost to a curse of mixing over impact. The wit and poetry on these tracks is barely audible through the undoubtedly great but overbearing distortion.
But when the lyrics do break-through, boy are they impressive. ‘Paper the House’ is probably the most lyrically proficient track this year with an arsenal of purging and resonating lyricism wrapped up in a heart-wrenching chorus melody. “Tears roll down my face again / as I place my head in my hands / darkness comes and it consumes / All my past dread in exhumed”. It’s mastery that can only be imbued through experience and reality – albeit solemn, it evoked joy in me that music can still be so brutal and honest, maybe I’ve stumbled upon the true incarnation of the expression?
Closing track “Glass Boys” is another highlight of my year in music so far. With transparent optimism it spits at the stereotype of hardcore as a guttural mash of noise, it speaks volumes that I found one of the most uplifting tracks in recent years standing boldly at the back of a crassly named punk record. With a cathartic bridge that speaks of concealed darknesses and finding solace in light, Glass Boys is a record that will reflect and pierce universally. From the thirteen year old unravelling rage and emotion to the frustrated careerist in their thirties, the concept of ‘outgrowing’ seems to weigh heavy at all stages of life. Forged characters of grit and lethargy, F**ked Up plead that we “Never let go of what we outgrow” and I for one am genuinely inspired.
PRETTY NEAT MUSIC
FAV TRACKS: PAPER THE HOUSE / ECHO BOOMER / TOUCH STONE / SUN GLASS / GLASS BOYS
LEAST FAV TRACKS: WARM CHANGE