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Album Review
Couple Tracks

Couple Tracks
by Fucked Up


Review Date
15th March 2010
Reviewed by
Gareth Meade

In the extensive liner notes that accompanies Couple Tracks, Fucked Up say of the track “Ban Violins” that “around the time that song came out, every band in Canada seemed to be made up of 10 or 15 people, most of whom played violins or other string or wind instruments that aren’t guitars or chainsaws, like regular bands do.” What statement could possibly be better to introduce Fucked Up to the uninitiated, or reiterate their greatness to those who have already had the pleasure?

In fact, Couple Tracks in general is a great way to do both. Collecting singles (and other nuggets) from 2002-2009, it brings together a wide range of material from the plethora of releases in the Fucked Up back catalogue. It’s in no way chronological, or any kind of logical for that matter, and at 25 songs across two discs it may serve as a daunting prospect for any punk or hardcore fan. But it pays to remember that this is a compilation, rather than an album proper. So while not everything on hear deserves your undivided attention, there is more than enough to be getting on with.

And a good place to start is with the aforementioned and endlessly entertaining liner notes. Each song is discussed and dissected in a self effacing and irreverent manner that enamours the reader to the band. Continuing on their analysis of “Ban Violins”, they go on to say; “At the time, we thought this was a grave injustice, and decided to take a stand against it. The liner notes contain a fake credit to Owen Pallett, the guy who played violin on most of these bands albums. The funny part is that a few years later, Owen was playing violin on OUR record, because we’re hippie sellouts.” And on it goes.

But what of the music itself? All of the prevalent influences are there, from The Damned, through Minor Threat and Black Flag. But as has always been noted about Fucked Up, their take on hardcore is one that is generally more palatable than these bands, and definitely more interesting than their contemporaries. They also tend to push the restrictive envelope of the genre. It’s interesting to compare the brief snarl of their first release No Pasaran with their cover of Another Sunny Day’s Anorak City; or the even more extreme style shift of Magic Word from a 2008 Daytrotter session (almost unrecognisable from the Chemistry of Common Life version).

It’s likely you’ll find yourself coming back to certain songs from Couple Tracks (“Fixed Race”, “I Hate Summer” and the sped up “No Epiphany” in particular) rather than listening to it in its entirety. In fact, if you do the latter, the songs begin to blend together in one long aural assault. But to have all of this material in one place is a godsend considering Fucked Up’s tendency to release limited quantity 7”’s, splits and demos. And how often is it these days a band gives you something worth reading about in the CD booklet?

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