I was jogging by the East River this morning, listening to David Comes to Life, the new album by the Toronto rock band called Fucked Up, marveling at how awesome it is, how the drumming is like a stampede of wild horses, and how well the band’s guitarists (there are three of them, like Molly Hatchet) hone and manipulate these giant waves of feedback and distortion, thinking that the sound reminds me more of Husker Du than anything I’ve heard since Husker Du, and that, if these guys had come out when I was in college, I would have probably wanted to tattoo some sort of sworn allegiance to them on my chest, when I noticed that the fuzz-tone wail was getting louder and louder in my headphones. Strangely louder. And then I realized that the loudness was actually coming from outside my headphones, and turned to see that a pontoon plane was landing on the river nearby. That’s always cool to see, an airplane landing on water, the splash and the glide and the waves that it makes. And it seemed to fit the music so well, the power of it, and since the plane was coming from the north, I thought, huh, wouldn’t that be cool if it was coming from Canada, maybe carrying Fucked Up down to the city to play a show. And that thought, and the image of the plane landing on the water from Canada, made me remember one of the less-great albums ever made by the greatest Canadian feedback-and-distortion rocker of them all. And that even though it was one of his less-great albums, there were still some songs on it that I liked.
Canada is totally ruling in music these days, huh? What with Arcade Fire winning the Grammys and Justin Bieber getting to make IMAX movies about his life and also record songs with gangsta rappers, and Drake being so popular for reasons that I can sort of understand (he’s certainly talented, Drake) but strongly disagree with. Why does everybody want to listen to someone whine about how hard it is to be rich and famous and drunk and high and having sex all the time through an autotune program and over music that sounds so much like Phil Collins in 1986?
Anyway, I kept on jogging, because I’m trying to get into better shape so as not to die as soon as sometimes it feels like I’m going to, and lord knows I can’t seem to stop eating too much, because of all the delicious restaurants in New York City, so I’m left with exercise in extreme heat to burn off the many calories I consume. And I kept on enjoying the Fucked Up record. It is really terrific! I like their last album a lot, The Chemistry of Common Life, which came out two years ago. I love it, in fact. But while I just got the new one two days ago, I think I might end up liking it even more. The songs are maybe more melodic? The vocals, sung by the very large and often shirtless singer with the incredible punk-rock name of “Pink Eye,” seem to be more like singing and less like shouting than they have in the past? (Or maybe I’m just bringing some pre-concieved idea of what this band’s “artistic growth” would be like to my initial listens? I’m not sure.) And there seems to be more of presence for the secondary singing of the sweet-voiced lady bass player. Which, I like that. As I get older, I notice myself liking more sweetness counterpoint with my heavy feedback-distortion-caterwaul rock music. This is not so surprising to me.
The album is a concept album, apparently. A rock opera, actually, about which I haven’t yet gleaned much from the lyrics. But Pitchfork’s Larry Fitzmaurice explained some in his review earlier this week:
“The story of David Comes to Life is fairly complicated and, at points, heavily meta. It concerns a factory worker named David Eliade who falls in love with a woman named Veronica Boisson. They conspire to build a bomb together and death, destruction, and redemption follow…”
And I jogged, thinking about how much I was liking this album, and because I’d gotten to see the cool airplane landing on the water, and thought about the possibility that it was bringing this great band to New York City, just as I was here listening to them, and because I’m as self-obessed as the next guy who thinks he’s the center of the entire universe, it occurred to me that the title of album might carry some more significance for me. My name is David! And I am jogging here in the hopes of getting healthier. Could this album be the thing through which I myself come to life this summer? I was ready. It was all making a cosmic sort of sense. I picked up my pace, and breathed deep into my lungs.
But then, soon after that, I had to stop jogging and walk the last five or six blocks back to apartment. Slowly. But the album still sounded pretty awesome.