There’s nothing wrong with Fucked Up, but I’ll be damned if I can find anything great. The issue for me is—and has always been—that I immediately feel like a crotchety old geezer whenever I hear them. I’m compelled to remind those who champion them that there’s more out there.
It’s straight out of my past and it’s better.
This troubles me because hardcore punk is a young man’s game and—at its most basic—it should leave the listener feeling young, shouldn’t it? Perhaps age has skewed my perspective and maybe I would be better served by allowing the youth their moment.
The thing is, when I hear something like Husker Du‘s “Real World,” I want to immediately tell people about how great it is. When I listen to any one of the songs on Couple Tracks—a compilation that spans the band’s singles and rare output for the past seven years—I immediately want to tell people that I’ve heard better.
Split between “the hard stuff” and “the fun stuff,” Couple Tracks follows no real chronological pattern. While the material presented couldn’t be considered as a good entry point for the novice, it’s the haphazard sequencing that will frustrate the completists that this compilation is geared for. I don’t know the reason why the band decided to split single sides between the two discs, but I do know the chop-shop placement of the songs makes Couple Tracks‘ title irrelevant and misleading.
All of this means nothing to fans who will find this compilation as a great way to obtain a bit more of this band’s prolific output.
For anyone else who doesn’t give a rat’s ass about Fucked Up’s recent pass through Rock Island for a Daytrotter session, or their holiday fist-pumper “David Christmas,” or any of their other two dozen rarities presented here, then The Chemistry of Common Life is a much more enjoyable place to begin.
What Couple Tracks affirms is that Fucked Up must be one helluva ride live and they’re currently making strides to become as good as their historical counterparts. Again, a chronological track set would show just how much progress they’ve made in their whirlwind career and compliment all of the positive press the band has received, seemingly just for following the blueprint that others have laid out for them.
Couple Tracks gives listeners a glimpse of how Fucked Up are carrying the torch of hardcore to a younger audience, but to anyone who witnessed the torch when it was lit, you’ll wonder why they can’t make the flame burn a bit brighter.