Fucked Up’s evolution from blitzkrieg punk band to progressive hardcore champion might seem dramatic, but as evidenced by Couple Tracks: Singles 2002-2009, most of the group’s growing up was done in private. Its sprawling opus, 2008’s The Chemistry Of Modern Life, was preceded by a shrapnel-blast of singles that received little attention at the time. But dismissing the band’s early output as mere baby steps misses the point: Like a primer on the history, potency, and gleeful paradox of punk, Couple Tracks is simultaneously poppy and crusty, regressive and inventive, optimistic and nihilistic. It also flat-out fucking rocks. It’s rife with cuts such as the catchy “Anorak City” and the corrosive “Black Hats,” songs that prove conclusively that singer Damian Abraham is a go-for-broke, louder-than-life frontman on par with Jerry A. of Poison Idea, or John Brannon of Negative Approach. And even the collection’s post-Chemistry tracks—including a ventilated, spaced-out version of “David Comes To Life,” a high point of the group’s 2006 breakthrough, Hidden World—feel more like the fearless experimentation of Big Boys or Crass than they feel like self-indulgence. Granted, Fucked Up’s ambitious full-lengths are always going to snag the most attention. But when it comes to chronicling the group’s heart, recklessness, and rabid devotion to the fine art of the punk anthem, Couple Tracks is the true classic.
More from The A.V. Club