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Like any kid that grew up in the ’90s, I have a lingering affection for bratty, immature punk rock. And over the last decade I’ve seen the effects of that nostalgic influence of bands like Blink 182 and NOFX rear its pimply, bleached haired head in a number of fantastic acts – from Wavves, Cloud Nothings and Jay Reatard (R.I.P.) and the subject of today’s dissection, FIDLAR.
However, I’ve always had an uneasy feeling about FIDLAR, and similar local party bands like Bleeding Knees Club and Dune Rats. Sure they’re great to shotgun beer and rip a bong load to, and there’s no better soundtrack for launching your body into a mosh pit, but when it comes to songwriting, there just didn’t seem to be a lot of substance.
However, on their second LP effort Too, FIDLAR again show off their brand of break neck brat punk, teaming with the chaos and energy that electrifies teenagers, but this time around highlighting that it may not in fact be their strong suit. Their beer chugging, Ritalin snorting antics are there in plain sight and sound on songs like West Coast and Sober, but this time around they’ve tied them to heightened sensibilities of melody and songwriting – easy to understand considering they’ve spent the last couple of years honing themselves as full-time, world-touring musicians.
But it’s the tracks on Too that don’t fall into that old skate punk pattern where their potential really begins to shine. Opener 40 oz On Repeat is partly a head bang to ’70s power rock, mixed with a toe dip of 2000s indie fairy tale folk – like they’re stuck between the walls of debauchery and innocence. Meanwhile Why Generation and Hey Johnny delve into ’60s British invasion era, reflecting the psychedelic undertones of hippie-era releases from The Who, The Beatles and The Kinks.
It’s here that they establish themselves as so much more than party starters, instead building a reputation for talented and versatile musicians with a sense of incorporating history into the possibilities of the present. S**t – they even go as far as getting sonically experimental on songs like Overdose.
By the time they’ve reached record closer Bad Habits they sound like they’ve almost completed their evolution away from their childish roots, having penned a Titus Andronicus worthy indie punk anthem that embodies their entire career trajectory into one five-and-a-half minute banger. It’s the tail of an arrow that I hope is only the first to be fired into a new and exciting direction for the band.
Watch: FIDLAR – 40oz. On Repeat