FIDLAR is one of those bands that found a sound rooted in a time/place that was relevant to the rest of the world for just a fleeting moment, and made it work. In case you lost track of popular acronymed bands, FIDLAR stands for “Fuck It Dog, Life’s A Risk” indicative of the style wrought by the skate-punk band your 2005 era little heart would have bled for. Too, their second studio album in two (ha) years stays close to their initial release, relying on bursts of energy coming from both Zac Carper and Elvis Kuen’s vocals paired with scathing guitars and intrinsic drum/bass lines.
Opening track ’40 oz. On Repeat’ seems to be a reminder that they’re still singing about teenage angst, anarchy, getting shit house wasted, and skating around life both literally and figuratively. What’s interesting about that initial song though is the noticeable change in production value of the tracks. It’s messy, yet catchy like an alt jam you’d get bombarded with on basic radio. Moving through ‘Punks’, ‘West Coast’, and ‘Why Generation’ we get a lot of the same. Same lift of the rift to pause for drama and concern. Same lyrical and melodic ebb and flow we’ve come to expect from the four piece. And same lack of direction for each of the songs’ end. FIDLAR is so one noted throughout the beginning of the album that it almost feels like a theme band, someone you’d hire to bring back memories of Pac-Sun, skateboarding, and getting stoned in the suburbs on the way to the beach.
It isn’t until ‘Leave Me Alone’ that you are led to believe that FIDLAR knows exactly what they’re doing. Singing about the trouble with growing up as an adult, the ever present man-child personas sing, “Too Late to die young, and too young to burn out.” Lines showcasing exactly what’s happening with their lives and this record. They’ve come to a place where things aren’t exactly what they used to be, but they also haven’t changed. Rather than end the song on an abrupt half strum like the rest of the album, you get a build-up and a proper finish. Quickly the tone’s change, and with ‘Drone’ we almost get a whole new album. The drum solo alone marks a buoyant upheaval, driving the listener from a state of nostalgia to a present that we can all agree on. No one wants to adult, no one wants to deal with an eight hour work day, no one wants to be a “drone”.
With ‘Overdose’ we again get that shift absent from the first part of the album. Well rounded, you hear cricks, ticks, and sounds generally reserved for a Transylvanian horror-core band. An ominous soundtrack to the story played out detailing the trouble with an emotional and physical dependence on drugs. As soon as it almost feels overwrought, it shifts, screeching vocals and guitars filling the void to bounce the rest of what’s happening off of. It’s exhilarating, and worth more than one listen to grasp at the painstaking detail .The rest of the album is mostly a grand flux between wanting to give up a life directed at them by pressures of the culture, while simultaneously avoiding dictated norms brought about by a “civilized” society.
Where the beginning of the album had tracks riddled with monotony and fear of the unknown, the rest of it focuses on sounds mirroring Thee Oh Sees, and the late Jay Reatard. Rather than focus on their pop-punk background ala Blink-182 and Peter-Pan syndrome, Too is a record about the hardest part of adolescence; letting it go. FIDLAR has a long way to go before becoming a prolific group worthy of sitting among garage/punk rock greats, however if Too is any indication of where they’re heading we can breathe a sigh of relief under the assumption that those man-boys will be alright after-all.