It seems that Fucked Up's primary purpose in their massive pile of releases has been to push boundaries. Thus their name. Doing away with any preconceived notions of what a hardcore album by a volatile live act should be, their second Matador release, The Chemistry of Common Life, is a lush, expansive masterpiece that dismisses the theory that punkers have to follow a concrete formula of short and fast songs with raw-edged production. Here, tracks are layered meticulously by Mike Haliechuk -- the Kevin Shields/Billy Corgan sonic mastermind and guitarist of the group -- who teamed up with their usual producer, Jon Drew, to lay down nearly 70 tracks per song. Reportedly, the band recorded bare-boned versions before going on tour for a few months, and after writing a surplus of extra parts on the road, Haliechuk returned to add dozens of guitars to each song. This technique resulted in a massively thick shoegaze feel, with billowing washes of distortion waves crashing down behind Pink Eyes, who effortlessly, but violently delivers his patented Cookie Monster growl over top. It's a unique mash of styles, and iconoclastic as always. Of course, this shouldn't be a surprise to anyone who has followed their haphazard career. Year of the Pig poo-pooed directness by including a song that was 18 minutes long, a three-minute drum solo was featured in Looking for Gold, Baiting the Public spread a single song over two sides of a record, making it impossible to hear seamlessly, and Hidden World went the distinctly unpunk orchestral route by incorporating strings from Arcade Fire's Owen Pallett. From the opening piccolo solo, it's obvious that Chemistry of Common Life follows the same anti-formula.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Jason Lymangrover