Some bands treat their between-album singles with all the care of a 7th grader finishing their homework on the bus before first period, but Fucked Up are clearly not like most bands. The 2015 installment in their "Chinese Zodiac" EP series is a single that's practically gargantuan -- the A-side, "Year of the Hare," clocks in at over 21 minutes, while the flip, "Cold California," is more efficient but still hefty, coming in at over eight minutes, making this single significantly longer than many classic punk albums at just a shade under half-an-hour. As befits Fucked Up's musical approach, Year of the Hare is as ambitious as it is long, and the title tune plays more like a suite than a single song, with acoustic guitars and pianos drifting through an atonal soundscape before the band finally kicks in at full gallop, with Damian Abraham bellowing with his usual hurricane-level force, interrupted around the halfway mark by a cool R&B-influenced interlude with vocals from Isla Craig. Meanwhile, on "California Cold," the band kicks out a powerful garage-punk rager (with over-amped acoustic guitars adding texture) before easing into a low-key, stoned-out jam that includes more flute run through an Echoplex since Jethro Tull were a force to be reckoned with. At heart, Fucked Up are punks who think like prog rockers, at least in the studio, and The Year of the Hare shows they can have it both ways, delivering just as strongly with sculpted sound as they do with righteous rage, and making use of the studio with the same intelligence that marks their most furious compositions. Year of the Hare is best recommended to fans who already have a grasp of Fucked Up's more esoteric moments -- beginners should try 2011's David Comes to Life or 2014's Glass Boys -- but this is still smart, lively, and thoroughly individual music from one of the most free-thinking bands to emerge from the punk rock underground.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming