Time is the most valuable resource on the planet. The innate parameters that constrict even the most ambitious of ideas lead to visions of all results; ample deadlines can be met with lacking enthusiasm and complacency, or unbounded freneticism in an effort to reach the end goal. For musicians, these laws of nature remain prevalent, referring specifically to the eyes of relevance and consistency in an artist’s career. Failure to deal with timetables can be the ultimate catalyst of the butterfly effect: one decision affects another, and before there’s a chance to breathe, the previous highs of success are no longer obtainable. For Canadian hardcore quintet Fucked Up and their forthcoming album One Day (out January 27th via Merge Records), both spontaneity and uncertainty were key in developing the outfit’s sixth studio album, whether or not both options were intentional.
While 2018’s Dose Your Dreams was recorded in a springtime season and featured over seventy-five minutes of music scrawled across an audacious, operatic display, One Day was recorded with a much more chaotic approach than its predecessor: the question “what do you think you would do, or be able to accomplish, if you were just given one day?” took center stage to the ethos of the five-piece’s sixth studio album. Staying (somewhat) true to word, primary composer/lead guitarist and Fucked Up visionary Mike Haliechuk completed the writing and documentation of ten songs in three eight-hour sessions. After that was done, drummer Jonah Falco wrote the entirety of his parts in one day without listening to any of the compositions prior to studio time. “It can feel like forever and one minute at the same time”, Haliechuk stated during the record’s development. “If you work on something for one day, it can end up being really special.”
While the album was written in 2019 and vocals were slated to be completed, the COVID-19 pandemic threw the timeline of One Day into an unforeseen theorization. Despite the release of Year of the Horse in 2021, as well as a demos collection and EP in 2022, lead vocalist David Abraham felt a sense of pensiveness revisiting the unreleased record: “What do I want to say to friends who aren’t here anymore? What do I want to say to myself? There was a lot of inner reflection going on, and after retreating into the fantasy world with Year of the Horse, this record is like we’re returning to real life.” With the marked theme of accomplishment echoed across every member, it’s no surprise that listening to singles “Found” and “One Day” is a metaphorical uphill battle: the band’s instrumental tones pushing the envelope of experimental abrasiveness, Abraham’s hardcore bark piercing at unmitigated range, with lyrics overflowing regret, travail, and longing for optimism in the form of pipe dreams all culminate within the overarching theme of regret and the ability to deal with it.
With the clarity in production providing a much-eager opportunity to hear the nuances that Fucked Up penned, songs like “I Think I Might Be Weird” showcase the band’s ability to recategorize the framework of the hardcore genre by trading off pseudo-80’s anthem-beat with all-too-familar vocal rasp to work as contrast. The group knows when to rein in the experimentation; tracks such as “Nothing’s Immortal” hearken back to previous record’s inspirations with its post-punk formula of emphatic crescendo and are pulled off with perfect execution.
Highlights of the record are interspersed all throughout its forty-minute runtime in glorious presentation; The melodic alternative-rock inspired “Cicada” sticks out with clear-cut melody and galvanizing singing, a particular high point on the record. The album closer “Roar” ends One Day in climactic ecstasy; an apex of sentiment coming to a head via blazing guitars and snarls of anguish provide a perfect fitting to the close of the twenty-fourth hour.
One Day is a record as rewarding as it is attentive; a chance to ruminate and lament past decisions, while realizing the next twenty-four hours is a chance to hit the reset button and achieve something greater.