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Label: Mom + Pop

Release Date: January 22

Rating: 4 / 5


FIDLAR is a band. They’re from Los Angeles. Their name stands for F— It Dog, Life’s A Risk (the new YOLO, you read it here first).

Their website advertises their “Record Release Shit Show” and sells skateboard decks and T-shirts where the “L” in FIDLAR is a middle finger. There’s much debate on the Internet about whether one of their lyrics is “40 beers later and a line of speed” or “40 beers later and I lie in the street.”

Their self-titled debut album, out next week, starts with a song called “Cheap Beer,” ends with a song called “Cocaine,” and is filled in between with titles like “Stoked and Broke,” “Blackout Stout,” and “Wake Bake Skate.” If you still can’t imagine what they sound like, I’m really not sure what else to say.

“Cheap Beer” is the lead single as well as the first, catchiest, and probably best song on the album. It’s a tale of Shakespearean proportion about “getting f—ed up on the 101 / shooting our guns and having fun.”

The accompanying music video is a true achievement of filmmaking, consisting of shots of a hairy faced, leather-clad dude on a motorcycle, beating people up for drinking wine and Stella Artois instead of cheap beer (at the end, in what I like to think is a nod to “Raising Arizona,” the mysterious motorcyclist sticks grenades on a person he’s caught not drinking cheap beer before).

The chorus of the song consists of shouting “I DRINK CHEAP BEER SO WHAT F— YOU.” It’s an addition to the canon of dumb punk rock songs about beer, and a great one at that. It’s pretty much designed for shouting along to in between PBRs, and it serves its purpose with dignity.

The rest of the album doesn’t stray too far from these lofty goals. “Stoked and Broke” talks about being “f—ed up and ditching school” and the desire to “smoke weed until I die” because “I’m f—ed up today and nothing’s wrong.”

Unemployment is about the only recurring theme besides intoxication. Every other line in “White On White” is “Got no job got no money got no place to be.” “Wake Bake Skate” repeats the lines “I don’t have a job and I don’t have a home / don’t have a life and I’m always stoned.”

This simple song structure is replicated over and over. Most of the lines in “No Waves” start with “I feel, feel like” and are followed by something different, be it “a cokehead,” “a crackhead,” “shooting up,” “I’m not gonna make it anymore,” or “grandpa.”

Every other line in the verses of the succinctly titled “Whore” is “You’re such a whore” e.g. “Why did you go betray me? / You’re such a whore / I stay at home drinking / You’re such a whore.”

Simplicity is not a bad thing, however. FIDLAR are a loud, angry, garage punk band. They know what they are, what they want to be, and they do exactly that.

Simplicity also doesn’t mean that FIDLAR are a one-trick horse, stuck valorizing getting wasted. In between the “cocaine and shitty pills” there’s plenty of self-doubt and self-loathing to go around and FIDLAR captures the contradictions that come with it perfectly.

They sing, “I need a new body and I need a new soul” but then “I feel, feel like f—ing up my life again with all my friends.” Elsewhere, in the span of two lines, they sing, “There’s nothing wrong with living like this / all my friends are pieces of s—.” You’re not sure if the conjunction at the line break is supposed to be “even though,” “but,” “because,” or all of the above.

Sometimes it’s hard to tell if FIDLAR are trying to convince you or themselves that doing an “eight ball of blow and half a pound of weed” is awesome. Refrains like “This ain’t my home” in “Whore” and “I can’t find my way home / I can’t find my way!” in “Blackout Stout” appear frequently. Songs which on first listen appear to be schlocky celebrations of intoxication actually have much more to say.

Over the course of the album FIDLAR paints a picture of a certain kind of youth, one filled with selfs: self-doubt, self-loathing, self-medication, and the vicious cycle of the three. At some point our narrator seems to be wondering whether all the “cocaine running around in my brain” is fueling the thoughts it’s supposed to be extinguishing.

No clear answer is offered, and maybe FIDLAR isn’t that interested in finding one. The first lines of a hidden bonus song offer up a large shrug: “I’m spending all my cash on cheap cocaine / and I’ve been wasted almost every day / and I don’t know what to do / it kinda sucks being twenty-two.” But hey, this is a punk record, not a self-help book. And it’s a loud, fun (musically at least), catchy punk record and the first great album of 2013.

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