Review of Fucked Up's compilation album Couple Tracks released through Matador
Fucked Up are no ordinary band. Aside from the expletive heavy moniker, one glance through the list of their collective band members reveals the unforgettable likes of Mustard Gas on bass, 10,000 Marbles on guitar and last but not least, a 22 stone singer who goes by the name of Pink Eyes. Of course all this would be their unique selling point were the music they make not so jaw-droppingly awesome, therefore rendering such idiosyncrasies totally irrelevant.
Having formed in Toronto almost a decade ago, Fucked Up steadily built up a reputation as one of the most enthralling live bands on the planet, not to mention released a plethora of rare-as-hell records across numerous independent labels from various parts of the world. Although cited as bringing hardcore punk back to the underground as well as deeming it officially "cool" once more, its this cottage industry mentality that makes Fucked Up an even more charming beast, in every sense of the word.
'Couple Tracks' is a mammoth twenty-five song compilation of rarities and outtakes all recorded between 2002 and last year, and follows on from their previous collection of all things similar, 'Epics In Minutes', which some would argue was the record that gained widespread attention for the six-piece in the first place. While serious vinyl collectors will no doubt be creaming themselves silly over the prospect of finally being able to own a bonafide copy of the band's debut single 'No Pasaran' or 'Generation' - arguably the band's most potent 45 to date - without either having to pay an arm or a leg on eBay or illegally download them, its some of their lesser feted releases compiled on here that reveal a whole lot more about Fucked Up's make-up than anyone could ever have realised beforehand.
Their recent invitation to join My Bloody Valentine on their All Tomorrow's Parties bill may have raised a few eyebrows, most notably due to the fact they were one of the few acts with no direct shoegaze or C86 influence, but a quick trawl through Disc Two of 'Couple Tracks' suggests their existence owes more to many of that scene's more understated players than anyone could possibly ever have imagined. Both The Shop Assistants ('Looking Back' and 'I Don't Wanna Be Friends With You') and Another Sunny Day ('Anorak City') are covered with visceral ferocity, while twee post-punk trio The Dolly Mixtures also find themselves given the thumbs up courtesy of equally fierce romps through 'He's So Frisky' and 'Dream Come True'.
The five previously unreleased tracks here - three outtakes from the sessions for the band's last album 'The Chemistry Of Common Life', one from 2006's 'Hidden World' and an extremely psychedelic Daytrotter Session version of 'David Comes To Life' - are worthy if not vital additions here, although the latter sounds like Mark Arm and Steve Turner's sometime side-project The Monkeywrench if remixed by Spacemen 3 legend Sonic Boom.
However, as an introduction to Fucked Up 'Couple Tracks' is as good as it gets, and although not quite matching up to the intensity of their live show does at least shed them in a positive light as an exceptionally talented and hardworking band.