Review ·

Pink Eyes, the alias of the otherwise unnamed singer of Fucked Up, is apparently a schizophrenic who doesn't get along with his bandmates. The band's two guitar players, who go by 10,000 Marbles and Concentration Camp, allegedly suffer from severe depression, which affects their participation in the band. They've been able to garner a bit of attention in their native Toronto over the past five years, but this is the first time they pulled it together enough to record a full-length. We should feel lucky that they did.


The band's music recalls a time before there was a division between punk and hardcore. There's plenty of melody here, but this sound predates pop-punk. The emphasis is on speed, power, and guitar riffs with enough swing to be danceable. The members' approach to punk is fairly traditional, but they aren't afraid to break the rules. Their style lends itself to songs that are short, sweet and to the point, but most of the tracks here are longer than five minutes, some even longer than seven minutes. The occasional use of violin, played by fellow Canadian Owen Pallet of the Arcade Fire, and mandolin keep Hidden World from sounding like a typical punk record.


Pink Eyes' bark is gruff and commanding, but the lyrics often seem more contemplative than assertive. The words center on doubts raised by faith and religion, almost to the point that this could be considered a concept record, the concept being the mental journey of a man tormented by the contradictions of religion and the futility of faith, as well as the void of a life without anything to believe in. And the words are dense. Check this excerpt from "Two Snakes": "Serpentine cadence condense but unwind the snakes refrain a fugue to see we are blind/ The two snakes spagyric spirit addition begun manifold within springs." His vocabulary, imagery, and maybe his schizophrenia make the complexities of lyrics outweigh those of the band's sound.


The fact that the music not only rocks but also provokes thought is very appealing, but the album does suffer from a lack of variety. The sound is almost too cultivated, and some songs are nearly indistinguishable from each other, with the band relying on similar riffs and song structures (there's little difference between the guitar parts on "Baiting the Public" and "Fate of Fates," songs five and six). Pink Eyes' consistent vocal delivery becomes a bit trying during the seventy-minute Hidden World.


Still, the album is solid, filled with truly inspired music. Hidden World shows the band members' ability to harness their insecurities, anguish, doubts, violent tendencies, contempt for authority, and internal struggles and channel that into a record that is concurrently powerful, original, beautiful, ugly, genuine and accessible. Just don't expect Fucked Up to play your town anytime soon.  


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