Review Summary: Down the rabbit hole.
For their Zodiac-themed series of releases, Fucked Up have always strived to compose music that reflects each animal sign in a unique way. While the preceding installment, Year of the Dragon
, consisted of furious and blistering music as ferocious as one would imagine an actual dragon being, the latest entry in the series, Year of the Hare
, takes the band’s distinctive prog-punk style down the “rabbit hole,” if you will. Fucked Up have always expressed a restless desire to take their sound in new directions, but Year of the Hare
makes a strong case for being the most experimental effort from the group to date.
The 21-minute title track in question begins with a ringing drone that unnervingly slithers on until blissful acoustic guitars are introduced. This gleaming build is fleeting, however, as the established layers are dismissed and a lo-fi recording of a piano being played in an empty, yet spacious room returns the song to its initial unsettling vibes. The more propulsive segments of the track then commence with a prolonged fade-in to Damian Abraham’s roaring snarls that’s accentuated by sudden bursts of static noise to convey the feeling of a powerful force making small cracks in a wall before explosively breaking through it. On top of all of this, the very lavish and indie rock-inspired midsection of the song featuring disarmingly melodic guest vocals from Isla Craig makes this one of the most curiously structured and daringly unconventional Fucked Up songs, and resembles a genuine suite more than any other track the band has put out.
The B-side, “California Cold,” further expands upon the abstract sound concepts, off-kilter structure, and experimental editing found in the epic title track to present a truly hallucinogenic song that appears to be influenced more by traditional psychedelic rock than it is classic progressive rock. Laden with hazy distortion, this eight-minute closing track gradually morphs into a densely layered, surreal soundscape achieved by a gumbo of synths, flutes, guitars, saxophone, and a Mellotron for good measure.
Those who are seeking an onslaught of unbridled hardcore punk from Fucked Up may be left feeling underwhelmed by this addition to the group's Zodiac series, but the band continues to set the bar for ambition in contemporary punk music, and fans who are fond of Fucked Up’s avant-garde leanings in particular will find plenty to appreciate in the mind-bending and elaborate compositions across Year of the Hare