FIDLAR, ‘FIDLAR’ – Album Review
It’s about time the whole band-as-gang thing comes back in vogue. That’s what was cool — maybe all that was cool — about the progenitors of bro-pop, the Monkees. Sure, Michael, Micky, Peter and Davy were focus-grouped and contractually obliged to play with each other (insert requisite “But so were the Sex Pistols!”), but with the help of some windowpane acid and an assist from Jack Nicholson’s ragtag producer friends at BBS Productions, they nailed the whole aesthetic of a crew that’s cool, close-knit and prone to wilding the hell out with each other. But here’s the catch with things like this: You can watch from a distance, but you’ll never, ever be part of it.
These days, we’re seeing these kinds of roguish, hyper-inclusive musical bro-ships pop up more and more. With FIDLAR and their California cohorts, it’s easy to point at the skateboards under everyone’s feet and say, “Oh, hey, I get it, guys; you’re supposed to be white Odd Future.” But FIDLAR offer up a dank strain of self-medicated mischief crossbred with nihilism and 21st century alienation that’s more Drake-like cognitive dissonance than Wolf Gang sugar rush.
“Crew Love,” yeah, but “F— It Dog, Life’s a Risk” — the skater term from which FIDLAR get their name — is YOLO (you only live once) in board shorts. And unlike Monkees-styled camaraderie (and already waning emo-rap) FIDLAR’s style of young, mean and wasted garage rock has never, ever gone away.
Sure, the dude who is still trying to push ‘Cyborgs Revisited’ by Simply Saucer on anyone still listening isn’t going to give a rip about what a bunch of kids who are barely skidding past drinking age are doing in a genre that hasn’t changed in 50 years. That dude sucks anyway, and you know he’s too old to be out drinking hard this late, but you’ve gotta admit he’s right about one thing: Garage rock bands are kind of required to be well-versed in the history of the genre, and we can’t tell if FIDLAR has ever cracked [unzipped] the seal [RAR file] on the ‘Nuggets’ box set [torrent].
We kind of hope they haven’t. It’s refreshing to hear something so stupidly pure and purely stupid — and maybe shortsighted, too. That guy who wears medium band shirts on his XL frame and smells of cat box is still going to throw the same old shade at these guys for ripping off 21st century ripped-jeans rock instead of Dan’s Garage deep cuts. (Actual quote: “FIDLAR? You mean Black Lips Babies?”)
But ‘Max Can’t Surf,’ the hard-rolling, self-depreciating centerpiece of the album, should be considered a new Nugget by just about anyone’s estimation. And ‘Stoned and Broke’ could have been the coolest song you wrote with your whiskey buddies but, well, you didn’t, and they did, and it sounds great.
Detractors, be damned — even if you make an OK point here an there. We recognize a promising, really fun album when we hear it. FIDLAR may be a bit cold in the middle, but we can’t wait to hear what these four kids sound like when the hangover kicks in.