Album Review: Fidlar—”Fidlar”

By Adam Bernhardt

As far as band acronyms go, few summarize a band’s philosophy so concisely quite like FIDLAR. Standing for “F***k It Dawg, Life’s a Risk” the youthfully adventurous expression popularized by skate punks on the west coast is only a snapback and a Drake song away from YOLO. This self-destructive joie de vivre translates into frantic hell for leather (or at least denim cut-offs if their videos are anything to go by) earworms that straddle that fine line between chaotic punk screamers and saccharine pop goodness. While comparisons to Waaves are typical, the difference between the two can be summarized as a matter of diet. While Waaves exists on weed and PBR, FIDLAR seem to subsist on poorly cut cocaine and malt liquor. The sweet pop-y melodies of FIDLAR are drowned in reverb and distortion as much as the latter, but while Waaves consists of more comfortable, laid-back punk (if that even makes sense), FIDLAR seem intent on driving themselves into the ground, lyrically celebrating drunkenness and “shitty pills” among other crooked behaviors that resemble the M.O. of old anti-drug PSA hoodlums.

From the opener “Cheap Beer” and its “I DRINK CHEAP BEER SO WHAT F*** YOU” chorus, it becomes quite clear that FIDLAR’s distortion and screaming conceal a developed melodic finesse – one that, while admittedly shambolic, perfectly complements their desperation and self-destructiveness. Nowhere is this more clearly seen than in the breathlessly succinct “5 to 9” in which a sing-along call and response acoustic verse is followed by a full band accompaniment, guitar solo, and whistling all crammed into a one minute and ten second time span. The lyrics again endorse a life of poor decisions, bringing to life a hybrid of a Charles Bukowski poem set to a frantic hardcore beat.

However, for all of their strengths, the one flaw that holds FIDLAR back from greatness is the thematic likeness of the entire album. A large part of FIDLAR’s appeal is their humor but, like hearing the same joke again and again, it begins to become a tiring chore. Indeed, the second half of the album (with the exception of “5 to 9”) lacks the strength and novelty of the first half. Songs like “Cocaine” (despite lyrically sampling reggae legend Dillinger and a false ending) fall flat, lacking the punch of earlier tracks. It almost begins to sound a lot like someone who has just discovered booze for the first time and posts it on Facebook (SO DRUHNK LOL XD). While funny at first, it becomes sadder and sadder as time wears on.

The best bands often embody a certain shambolic desperation, a yearning to be heard lest they explode from the built-up anxiety and aggression that lacks an outlet in the real world. FIDLAR, no doubt adheres to this principle. Their energy and passion translate into noisily melodic hooks performed at breakneck speed that are always seemingly on the cusp of falling apart. But their stunted lyrical output prevents them from attaining any further greatness. But, hell, the Ramones started off pretty dumb, and they got pretty “undumb” quickly enough so there’s still hope for FIDLAR. But whenever I need to pound back a six-pack in just as many minutes, FIDLAR will be the soundtrack.

Listen To: “5 to 9”, “Cheap Beer”.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: