Review Summary: So what, fuck you.
There comes a time in everyone’s life where an outburst of pure energy needs to occur in order to maintain one’s sanity. Whether it’s fueled by anger and frustration or an instinctual, raw escalation of energy, people quickly learn that just letting it all out can sometimes be helpful. FIDLAR (whose band name stands for "Fuck it Dog, Life’s a Risk”) has come to this realization, yet their solution was to form a band, start drinking and doing drugs excessively, and write songs about said drug use and partying. Despite how destructive this lifestyle is (eventually the band had to perform an intervention for lead singer Zac Carper), goddamn is it fun
to listen to.
It’s really difficult to explain why FIDLAR is able to convey the extreme emotions of what it feels like to recognize your own problems and ignore them anyways. The music is punk influenced, yes, but I wouldn’t necessarily say that musically FIDLAR is as hardcore as I might be making them out to be. There are certainly other bands that sound more energetic, explosive, and raw, because after all FIDLAR is a band that is rooted in many surf rock and indie influences. Yet, lead singer Zac has the ability to express the “fuck it” mood so appropriately due to the combination of his lyrics and his vocal performances. Songs like ‘Cheap Beer’, ‘Whore’, and ‘Wake Bake Skate’ showcase this medley of brutally honest lyrics and frantic, shout-y vocal deliveries. It’s hard not to appreciate Zac’s honesty when he nonchalantly drops lines like “I do a bunch of drugs, I’m a fiend and an addict, I’m all messed up watching television static”. He doesn’t portray his lifestyle in a glamorous fashion like most rock stars do, yet he doesn’t get too self-depreciating that it’s depressing to listen him talk about his messed up life. He just tells you that he “drinks cheap beer” and does cocaine blatantly, not looking for sympathy and not looking for adoration from his audience. In a way, it is somewhat endearing to listen to this unfiltered honesty.
The faults of this album are actually quite surprising. When you put on this album you are instantly greeted by ‘Cheap Beer’, a ferocious, energetic punk track that sets up some unrealistic expectations for the rest of the album. In reality, none of the other 13 tracks on this album live up to the stamina and muscle of this opening track. In fact, FIDLAR fails the most when they let their surf rock tendencies to infect the entirety of a song. While certain lethargic tracks remain entertaining, songs like ‘No Waves’ and ‘Gimme Something’ seem almost forced and tacky due to how derivative the instrumentals are. Here the brutally honest lyrics combined with laid back, uninspired guitar riffs only further hurt these tracks, leaving a bad taste in your mouth much like a cheap beer. Although it’s hard to fault a band for exploring different musical styles within an album, after listening to the aggressiveness of the first three tracks it’s difficult not to ask for more of the same.
Luckily the highlights outweigh the few duds on this album. Some songs that aren’t as immediately gratifying and in-your-face actually turn into the more interesting moments on the album. ‘Max Can’t Surf’ showcases a combination of punk influenced vocal deliveries and beach-y vibes with slightly humorous lyrics to top it all off. In addition, closer ‘Cocaine’ offers a bi-polar structured track with the first half featuring Zac yelling about how he’s always on coke while the second half carries this theme over but in a more reflective, mellowed out manner. Here, for the first time, we see Zac in a truly vulnerable state as he sings about his own friends kicking him out due to his drug use and erratic behavior. It’s surprising that FIDLAR decided to end the album on such a note, yet it’s somewhat fitting. The band’s existence thus far has just been, for the most part, an explosion of pure energy, and while this is gratifying for both them and the listener, in order to stay alive there has to be a return to sanity.