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2018 in Review | Tinnitist’s Top Punk & Metal Albums

Canadian punks Fucked Up unleash their most ambitious album. Until their next one.

Top Pick: Fucked Up | Dose Your Dreams

Hey, remember when Fucked Up were just a punk band? Those were the days. Except they weren’t. Because really, Fucked Up were never just a punk band. From Day 1, this Toronto sextet have always been something more. Something smarter. Something greater. Something far more ambitious. And on every succeeding album, as they’ve aimed higher and worked harder, they’ve made good on that promise, slowly but steadily evolving into one of the most uncompromisingly creative outfits in Canada, if not the world. Their unstoppable upward trajectory has now reached the point where it’s hard to imagine them ever making a better record than their last one. I mean, at some point, their luck has to run out, right? Wrong. At least this time. With their fifth album Dose Your Dreams, Fucked Up have quite simply topped themselves yet again. And not just slightly. This monumental double-disc rock-opera concept album stands head and shoulders above and beyond anything they’ve ever done before — including their last monumental double-disc rock-opera concept album. That, of course, would be the universally acclaimed David Comes to Life, the metafictional tale of a light-bulb factory drone who falls in love with an activist, only to see her killed when they bomb his workplace — after which he realizes he was just a character in a story being written by a villain named Octavio. David comes back to life in the 88-minute Dose Your Dreams, though now he’s a white-collar drudge who gets fired from his dead-end desk job, meets a sorceress in the dumpster behind his office, and ends up rejecting capitalism and taking a metaphysical journey in pursuit of joy, love and his dreams. In other words, they’ve written another story that urges you to write your own story. That may feel slightly familiar. But the musical side of the equation is where the band truly spread their wings this time. On these 18 tracks, force-of-nature frontman Damian Abraham steps back slightly from the spotlight to let guitarist Mike Haliechuk take the reins, and the result is their most stylistically eclectic and wide-ranging album to date. Along with the slashing, hypnotically propulsive post-punk and rock you expect, Haliechuk leads the band through a litany of genres: Industrial, psychedelia, power-pop, space-rock, indie-rock, krautrock and even (believe it or not) disco. Guitars are still front and centre most of the time, but there’s also plenty of room for keyboards, saxophone and strings arranged by Owen Pallett. To go with that sonic variety, F—ed Up welcome another small army of guest vocalists to supplement Abraham. Haliechuk, drummer Jonah Falco and guitarist Ben Cook take turns on the mic, as do old pals J Mascis and Jennifer Castle, along with Alice Hansen, Ryan Tong, John Southworth, Mary Margaret O’Hara and Lido Pimienta. It makes for a truly unpredictable outing: You never really know what’s coming next, or who’s taking the lead. But that also makes for a truly compelling listening experience that takes you to places F—ed Up have never gone before and might never go again. And when it all wraps up with the epic Joy Stops Time, it’s hard to believe they could ever make an album this outrageous and original again. Until they do.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS (in alphabetical order)

• La Chinga | Beyond the Sky
• Clutch | Book of Bad Decisions
• Died | Anonymized Internal Criminals
• The Dirty Nil | Master Volume
• GØGGS | Pre Strike Sweep
• Laura Jane Grace & The Devouring Mothers | Bought to Rot
• High On Fire | Electric Messiah
• Hot Snakes | Jericho Sirens
• KEN mode | Loved
• Walter Lure & The Waldos | Wacka Lacka Loom Bop a Loom Bam Boo
• Mudhoney | Digital Garbage
• Superchunk | What a Time to Be Alive
• Voivod | The Wake

** NOTE: Because Tinnitist has only been around since mid-September, this list features albums released and reviewed since then — along with whatever else I heard and remembered from the rest of the year. If you can’t find a review by clicking on the entry or searching the site — or you spot an obvious oversight in this list — the album you’re looking for probably came out too early for me to review it. Or I just didn’t have time. Either way, my bad.

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