Scribbling their name onto the music map all glassy-eyed and self-righteous, four skater boys from L.A released an absolute doozy of a punk rock debut, self-titled with the acronym of commonplace Californian skater-scene slogan; “Fuck It, Dog, Life’s A Risk.” Now, mustering their collective ‘cheap-beer’ fueled creative forces, which always work in their favour, FIDLAR present their follow-up long play, ever-ingeniously dubbed Too.
Following a handful of EPs and a variety of internet uploads, 2013’s FIDLAR was an expected and classic tinny garage release that won the band an international cult following of fans with their drinking, smoking, and drug-popping frat-like chants, and all round give-no-shits punk attitude. Too continues to uphold the FIDLAR way also, with song titles alone alluding to this (‘Overdose’, ‘Stupid Decisions’ and ‘Bad Habits’ just to name a few). Despite this though, it certainly differs from the first.
Where FIDLAR had all the noise, grit, reverb and feedback of a rowdy band jam overheard from down the street, Too is surprisingly polished and somewhat considered; outputting what seems like a more inclusive array of influences. FIDLAR’s cemented tropicana surf roots still dominate the warmth of Too, but with pepperings of stripped back soft-rock, bluesy acoustics, even easy-to-follow pop arrangements and lyricism that are surprisingly prominent. Though thoroughly unexpected, this only makes the listen evermore interesting – and honestly – the shift works.
Sounds, tempos and even instruments jump around, from the head-banging electric rock of ‘Punks’ – think Band Of Skulls riffs amped up with Violent Soho vocals – to the lazy acoustic midsection track ‘Overdose’ reminiscent of Black Rebel or even Modest Mouse, continuing into The Kinks-esque pure surf punk on ‘Why Generation’. For a sophomore record, Too certainly gets points for taking on new experimentation.
Perhaps we should have already guessed that this would be the case, when the band revealed their first official music video for opening track ‘40oz On Repeat’ which sees the band reenact a hotlist of classic music videos from across the eras; including everyone from Eminem to Missy Elliot, and The Beastie Boys to Britney Spears. Frontman Zac Carper cries woes of adulthood and growing up, as the boppy little ditty erupts into an eclectic mix of the gnarly guitar riffs of garage; the catchy vocal choruses of pop and the repetitive strums of what could even be mistaken as a dance break.
Fans who embrace the FIDLAR mantra may perhaps find the album a bit too pop-like in it’s composition, but it certainly gets better with every listen. If you’re really struggling to come to terms with the shift, skip to track three for a decent fix of their old stuff with classic Californian summer skating jam ‘West Coast’. By not limiting themselves to any one division of punk, or even to the single genre itself, Too sees FIDLAR open up a whole new can of whoop-ass. It’s a slow burn, but it’ll stick around.
Too is out today via Warner Music Australia.