Album Review: FIDLAR – FIDLAR

[Mom & Pop; 2013]

LA punks FIDLAR opened up their debut DIYDUI EP with the song “Wake, Bake, Skate,” which set the tone for the collection of songs and the band’s personality: guys who like to have fun, do a few drugs, and just mess around. Their debut album instantly steam rolls that idea with “Cheap Beer,” which opens the record with a much more bleary-eyed and confrontational statement than anything on DIYDUI: “I! Drink! Cheap! Beer! So! What! FUCK! YOU!” The tales of surfing and skateboarding seem like a cute and distant past; all of a sudden it seems like these guys can really do themselves some damage, and with FIDLAR they’ve tried to make the perfect soundtrack.

Three of the four songs from the EP (“Wake, Bake, Skate,” “Max Can’t Surf,” “Wait For The Man”) have been re-recorded with additional guitars and more growling vocals from Zac Carper. They still sound relatively lightweight compared to what else is going on here. On “Stoked and Broke” they dream about getting “pissed up in the hills / cheap cocaine and shitty pills,” while cheap beer is just the surface of what they’re getting into on the opening track, where they’re also indulging “a line of speed, an eight-ball of coke and half a pound of weed.” Even when they’re not specifically singing about being messed up, everything seems to be coming from a wasted mind, as on the break up track “Whore” where Carper repeatedly sings “Why did you go betray me? / You’re such a whore / I stay at home drinking / You’re such a whore.” They’re not exactly glorifying drug and alcohol use, but the way these lines are delivered with such intent while backed by vicious guitars, it’s easy to get yourself into that kind of state of mind.

It’s easy to peg FIDLAR as one-trick-pony on the first listen, but just when you think you have them figured out, you might be surprised. Musically they show a little variation on “Gimme Something,” which is a country-punk song about a homeless guy trying to score money or drugs, with a fun sing along chorus, and “No Waves” flips the script a little, with the guys getting a little neurotic about quite how many drugs they take and dreaming about a “perfect life down sunset shore.” They’re not huge side-steps, admittedly, but they’re just a couple of the reminders that sporadically crop up that these guys have a little more to their personalities than what they usually present. By the time the alcohol-soaked secret track comes around, and Carper sulks “it kinda sucks being twenty-two,” you can’t help empathising a little. FIDLAR are still young, and they sing about what they know; never on the album do you feel like they’re presenting themselves as anything other than what they are, and this is why the album is enjoyable despite its repetition and simplicity. There’s no real depth to these songs, but sometimes surface is all you need–not to mention every single track is catchy as heck.

FIDLAR aren’t necessarily the kind of guys you’d want to hang around with very often–heck sometimes it seems they don’t even want to hang out with each other (“all my friends are pieces of shit” sings Carper on “Stoked and Broke”). However, they are the kinds of guys you’d want to party with, and their album is much the same; you might not want to listen to it every day, but when it’s time to get a bit rowdy, you know who to call upon.