LA-based punk-surf rockers FIDLAR (an acronym for Fuck it, Dog, Life’s a Risk) found themselves at the forefront of my playlist this week with their self-titled debut. It dropped last month and is a brief, testosterone-fuelled celebration of some of the most inane, misanthropic and hedonistic themes committed to wax, with practically every song being about hard drugs, casual sex, slacking off and getting drunk, laced with gratuitous profanity. At least, I believed it to be a celebration, and that FIDLAR should be condemned for unapologetically advocating such a self-destructive lifestyle. Yet I didn’t stop listening to it, that’s for sure. (“Down with capitalism!” they cry, while sipping coffee from their Starbucks mugs) Somewhere along the line I seem to have convinced myself that their message is actually an ironic one, that it’s not a celebration but a condemnation, left only for the astute to unlock. I’m fairly sure, mind you, that the joke is on me. But am I bothered? Not at all. Am I going to recommend the hell out of this album? Absolutely.
FIDLAR perfectly capture the essence of Generation Y, with little regard for authority or institution, and plenty of regard for self-preservation, excess and non-conformity. Every song is a raised middle finger to “The Man,” and a toast to good times. And the fact is that when FIDLAR are the narrators of these tales, you don’t question that they are in fact good times. The songs are sung with such a carefree attitude without indication of regret, the music is so spunky and direct that you can’t help but wish you were having as much fun as them. Never before has such a frivolous lifestyle seemed more appealing, and they certainly start as they mean to go on. “I drink cheap beer/so what, fuck you” cries the chorus of the opener Cheap Beer, propelled by the angst-ridden, Songs For The Deaf-lovechild of a guitar riff. Yeah they drink cheap beer? You don’t like it? They couldn’t care less. Elsewhere, as on 5 to 9, they manage to continue a night’s drinking till midday, drive under the influence, vomit on the backseat and get arrested on the way to LA County in the space of a brief minute. Being from LA, life in the fast lane is to be expected, and FIDLAR not only agree with this but represent it to the extreme on this album. It really is a testament to the band that they make seemingly inane topics sound wildly appealing. Their musical style owes a lot to various sources; the New York punk of Television, Ramones and Patti Smith, the SoCal rockers Camper Van Beethoven, a little Beach Boys and the “screw you” attitude of Circle Jerks which, all in all, is ridiculously fun to listen to.
|LA punk, they might mean it, either way, they look like they mean it!|
It’s quite telling, however, that deep underneath the glorified decadence of this album there lies an element of dissatisfaction. Listening to it several times reveals something I hadn’t thought about before: motivation. Why are they acting like this? Are they scorpions stinging the frog – it’s simply in their nature? What makes them act like this? Well, it’s quite simple – boredom. Life isn’t offering them anything else but cheap thrills, as far as they can see, so that’s what they’re taking. Why? Because they’re there. No higher motivation, no sense of purpose – simply because it’s something to do. Even in White on White, the one song about something other than goofing off, reflects this attitude. The singer of the song is going to be shipped overseas in the military to serve his country; not from any sense of national pride, but because he’s “got no job, got no money, got no place to be/So they said they’re gonna make a man out of me.” That’s it. The final track has a “hidden track” at the end (which is kind of redundant in the MP3 era when you see that the track is seven minutes long and ends after three: there’s bound to be something else there, which of course there is) that basically sums up the whole thing. “I don’t know what to do/It kind of sucks being 22.” Alright FIDLAR, I hear you. It does, but boy you’re sure making the most of it.
Okay, so I don’t believe that FIDLAR are leading us on in Keyser Soze-proportions to believe they’re being ironic: they’re not. This is for damn sure a celebration of carefree youth, a musical slap in the face for all the stiffs out there, and one heck of a fun album to listen to even if you can’t relate to their lifestyle. Of course, boredom must take its toll, and no doubt FIDLAR’s fun will be over once the same routines get old, but for now, they’re doing all they can to have fun while they have the energy. The result is a truly captivating and addictive album, one that doesn’t really offer anything profound but is so much fun that you keep coming back to it even if there is something of higher value nearby. I guess FIDLAR are offering you the experience of hedonistic thrills through their music as a parallel to the ones they experience in their lifestyle, and as bad as it may be for me, I sure thank them for it. It’s a quick burst of fun that I can come back to over and over again, and you can too by buying the album direct from their record label. The only thing I’ll say in criticism: change the name, guys. I know it exemplifies your attitude and all, but it’s like an even lamer version of YOLO. The music enough is sufficient to let the world know that life’s a risk and to make the most of it. And trust me, that’s exactly what they’re going to think when they hear it.
Words – Adam.