David Comes to Life (Matador)
It’s understandable that people are still describing F--ked Up as a hardcore band, thanks largely to Damien Abraham’s throat-shredding shout-singing, still so apparently foreign in any other context. But David Comes to Life may finally be the point where the caveats become too much trouble and we just admit that they’re doing something entirely their own. While it is true that the compositions here find the Toronto collective in a more elemental mood after the sprawl of 2008’s much-adored The Chemistry of Common Life, they have parlayed that record’s grandeur into a broader (but no gentler) sound that surprises the listener over and over in its accessibility. It would be enough, for example, that Les Savy Fav-tinged “Queen of Hearts” is one of the best songs the band has written, but what is exciting is that it is also one of the most infectious tunes of the summer.
That can’t be said, of course, for everything on David Comes to Life. But there is a hooky consistency across the 18 tracks. That’s right, 18. As if any other evidence were needed that F--ked Up transcend hardcore, they’ve gone and written themselves a 77-minute rock opera. There is a fairly involved story for those want to scour the lyric sheet, but in the end what makes David a worthy followup to Chemistry (and wards off pretension to boot) is how furiously the songs bring across an emotional narrative of love and loss, and throw curveballs made more poignant by Abraham’s raw wail. Catharsis is the through-line between the legacy of hardcore and the soaring, arena-ready sensibilities F--ked Up sneak up on here, and David Comes to Life is soaked in it.