Music

FIDLAR: FIDLAR

L.A skate rats FIDLAR mainly care about getting drunk, doing drugs, and yelling. It works out pretty well on their debut album.


FIDLAR

FIDLAR

Label: Wichita
US Release Date: 2013-02-05
UK Release Date: 2013-02-04
Amazon
iTunes

“I’m an occasional drinker,” Raymond Chandler once wrote. “The kind of guy who goes out for a beer and wakes up in Singapore with a full beard." It’s doubtful that Chandler would get along with the guys from FIDLAR -- he actually was a very sad person -- but they’d certainly have a lot to talk about, writing wise. Mainly that both of their protagonists often drink a seemingly impossible amount of alcohol, and hang around Los Angeles, so convinced of their loserdom that they’re actually cool.

Along with Raymond Chandler, here are a few names I’m sure they wouldn’t mind if I threw around: The Descendants. Tales of Terror. JFA. Name a great garage/noise-rock/punk band, and Fuck It Dog Life’s a Risk -- much like the city they hail from, they shorten their name -- wants to be like them on FIDLAR. Anything that the brings the motherfucking raucous, in other words, without much sense or care for sub-genre.

And though they might sound more like Jay Reatard, everything from their Twitter handle (@fidlarLA) to the numerous neighborhood shout-out, shows that they’ve got a special place in their hearts for Southern California skate/D.I.Y greats, known for punches to the gut and water balloons full of piss to the face. And when they pull it off, like on opener “Cheap Beer”, they pull it off. “I! Drink! Cheap! Beer! So! What! Fuck! You!” yells lead singer Tom Carper like a man who knows the oxygen is running out and is using his last breaths to state a declaration of principle.

It’d be easy to mistake a lot of songs on FIDLAR as about partying, as opposed to getting fucked up. The two overlap sometimes, but there remains a big difference. “I just wanna get reaaaally high, smoke weed until I dieeee” on “Stoked and Broke”, for example. Later on that song Carper declares that “there’s nothing wrong with living like this!”, but you get the feeling that he’s just telling himself that so he can someday hear a crowd yell it back at him in justification. And lo and behold, just two songs later on “No Waves” he’s feeling like a grandpa and a crackhead, in need of a new body and/or new soul. “No Waves” is a well-deserved rest that leads to somewhat unwelcome self-realizations that FIDLAR can never quite shake.

FIDLAR’s best songs combine everything that’s great and terrible about the drugs that feature so prominently on the album. The great parts being that they make you feel invincible and that you’ll live forever, the terrible parts being that they sometimes make you paranoid and are way too expensive. The “Wake Bake Skate” featured here is slower than the one of their DIYDUI seven-inch, by a full eight seconds -- and when a track is under a 1:50, you notice that sort of things. It still sounds like giant shaggy dog of a song, overjoyed at the chance to tackle you and stomp around and lick your face, because you finally came home with weed. All the instruments, including Carper’s voice, sound like they’re about to snap, but are going to continue to make you jump around until they do. Around the twentieth listen, if you have any experience with either of these topics, you might realize being “always broke” and “always stoned” sounds kind of awful. You’ll keep singing anyway, because how the hell could you not?

Carper’s lyrics work best when they apply a Duhnam-like sense of self. On the echo chamber to paradise that is “Paycheck” and the Disney head-bopping-above-words jam that is “5 to 9”, his words sound best when sound like they’re coming from that new CW series, The Lester (Bangs) Diaries. Even the lone attempt at #character comes from within -- “Max Can’t Surf” is about drummer Max Kuehn. There are a couple throwaways that don’t really find anything to hang their hats on, but the guitars mostly carry those into the realm of acceptability. The only real failure is the black hole of misogyny that is “Whore”. Whatever possessed FIDLAR to include a song whose lyrics go, “Why did you have to leave me, you’re such a whore”, stifling that particular artistic desire would have made their debut a whole lot stronger. Frankly, calling Angeleno women "whores" is straight-up Papa Roach territory.

What do we want a punk/garage band to be in 2013? Now that people have figured out that there are quicker ways to becoming a musician than learning three chords, it also seems like a drag to be punk. FIDLAR’s debut isn’t going to reshape anyone’s idea of what is possible with guitars, but it shows how fun they can be -- and on “Whore”, how frustrating. It’d feel dumb recommending editing or refinement or any sort of growth strategy to FIDLAR. These guys have been making D.I.Y from the start, I bet they’ll figure it out on their own.

7
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Music

Dancing in the Street: Our 25 Favorite Motown Singles

Detroit's Motown Records will forever be important as both a hit factory and an African American-owned label that achieved massive mainstream success and influence. We select our 25 favorite singles from the "Sound of Young America".

Music

The Durutti Column's 'Vini Reilly' Is the Post-Punk's Band's Definitive Statement

Mancunian guitarist/texturalist Vini Reilly parlayed the momentum from his famous Morrissey collaboration into an essential, definitive statement for the Durutti Column.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

What Will Come? COVID-19 and the Politics of Economic Depression

The financial crash of 2008-2010 reemphasized that traumatic economic shifts drive political change, so what might we imagine — or fear — will emerge from the COVID-19 depression?

Music

Datura4 Take Us Down the "West Coast Highway Cosmic" (premiere)

Australia's Datura4 deliver a highway anthem for a new generation with "West Coast Highway Cosmic". Take a trip without leaving the couch.

Music

Teddy Thompson Sings About Love on 'Heartbreaker Please'

Teddy Thompson's Heartbreaker Please raises one's spirits by accepting the end as a new beginning. He's re-joining the world and out looking for love.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Little Protests Everywhere

Wherever you are, let's invite our neighbors not to look away from police violence against African Americans and others. Let's encourage them not to forget about George Floyd and so many before him.

Music

Carey Mercer's New Band Soft Plastics Score Big with Debut '5 Dreams'

Two years after Frog Eyes dissolved, Carey Mercer is back with a new band, Soft Plastics. 5 Dreams and Mercer's surreal sense of incongruity should be welcomed with open arms and open ears.

Music

Sondre Lerche Rewards 'Patience' with Clever and Sophisticated Indie Pop

Patience joins its predecessors, Please and Pleasure, to form a loose trilogy that stands as the finest work of Sondre Lerche's career.

Film

Ruben Fleischer's 'Venom' Has No Bite

Ruben Fleischer's toothless antihero film, Venom is like a blockbuster from 15 years earlier: one-dimensional, loose plot, inconsistent tone, and packaged in the least-offensive, most mass appeal way possible. Sigh.

Books

Cordelia Strube's 'Misconduct of the Heart' Palpitates with Dysfunction

Cordelia Strube's 11th novel, Misconduct of the Heart, depicts trauma survivors in a form that's compelling but difficult to digest.

Music

Reaching For the Vibe: Sonic Boom Fears for the Planet on 'All Things Being Equal'

Sonic Boom is Peter Kember, a veteran of 1980s indie space rockers Spacemen 3, as well as Spectrum, E.A.R., and a whole bunch of other fascinating stuff. On his first solo album in 30 years, he urges us all to take our foot off the gas pedal.

Film

Old British Films, Boring? Pshaw!

The passage of time tends to make old films more interesting, such as these seven films of the late '40s and '50s from British directors John Boulting, Carol Reed, David Lean, Anthony Kimmins, Charles Frend, Guy Hamilton, and Leslie Norman.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.