Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Album Review - David Comes To Life - A Pretentious Hardcore Punk Rock Opera?
Well, it seems that Toronto and most of western civilization is pretty Fucked Up these days. AND for good reason, the masters of musical mayhem and marketing have released their third studio album and first full fledged rock opera of sorts. They are way ahead of schedule. Usually bands wait until their fourth or fifth album to get all conceptual. The ambitious result is David Comes to Life, essentially a 4 act play centered around a factory worker (David) who loses the love of his life (Veronica) during a failed bombing attempt of the aforementioned factory (whether David was involved in the bombing, well, I will leave that up to you to ferret out). The album is a full 1 hour, 17 min and 55 seconds long and the loss of a love is not all that is covered here. There are deeper issues about failed politics and the existence of God, etc. not that you would know by just listening to the lyrics as delivered in screams and growls by the affable Damian Abraham (aka Pink Eye) as a great deal of the prose is hard to hear. But not to worry, Fucked Up has all the lyrics posted on their David Comes to Life site in the same manner that Italian Operas have the translations in the program.
The lyrics actually make this whole thing palatable, not only can you make a game of it, (oh THAT'S what he said), some of the lyrics add the emotional punch that is unfortunately not present in the music itself. While the songs are layered with waves of guitar wails, the musical territory is all too familiar. Every rock cliche and stale progression is dredged up. "Turn the Season" has the bombastic sound of a punk Bruce Springsteen song. "Running on Nothing" at it's core could be a Guns and Roses song with some doses of the Cult. There are flashes of the Sex Pistols and I think even Def Leppard. But maybe I am being a bit over critical as most of the songs, after all, are mere frameworks for Damian's poetic diatribe and for that purpose the music works ok and while a lot of the lyrics are also full of cliches, they feel to me, for the most part, heartfelt and passionate. One thing that does get old is the constant "rhyming word" delivered at the end of every lyric line. All you budding or non budding lyricists out there, IT ALL doesn't have to rhyme.
In the final analysis, David Comes to Life is just too damn big. It feels over wrought, over produced, and a bit pretentious. This is a common thing for conceptual rock opera type albums ever since Meatloaf's Bat Out of Hell album (I just threw up in my mouth a little bit). Aaah, what do I know(?) Bat out of Hell sold like 45 million copies and I am sure David Comes to Life will do equally well in the hardcore punk category (yes they are hardcore punk because Wikipedia says so).
Apart from swallowing this album whole and not liking it all that much there are some really cool songs on it. The intro is stellar. "The Other Shoe" is wonderful and is by far the most mainstream song on the record due to the pretty female vocals that serve as a refreshing contrast to Damian's gravelly attack. They even sound wonderful singing together, sand paper and silk coexisting. "One More Night" with it's almost Pete Townsend-esque build up, full guitar assault and cool guitar breaks is simply bad ass, "The Recursive Girl" is a nice straight forward non cluttered punk song and "Lights Go Up" from the very first down beat is down right infectious, a bitter sweet party of heavy guitar licks swirled around a more plaintive Pink Eye vocal performance.
So, what is next. Fucked Up The Broadway Musical?
To stream the entire Album go here: