Remember skate-punk? The stuff of a thousand Punk-O-Rama compilations, Deconstruction Festival line-ups and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater soundtracks? It’s back, and against all conceivable odds, it’s cool. This snotty young LA quartet, named for a skater acronym (Fuck It Dog, Life’s A Risk) are riding the wave (or rather, grind rail) of scuzzy garage-rock worming its way back into the consciousness with bands like Wavves, No Age and Best Coast, and have a confrontational sound that lands somewhere in the middle of Trash Talk, Gnarwolves, Black Flag and Ramones. Like fellow City Of Angels inhabitants Odd Future, this is aimed perfectly at the “YOLO generation” – kids who don’t give a fuck about anything except when their next beer and joint is coming.
Their ethos is summed up perfectly by the refrain of opening “Cheap Beer” – “I DRINK, CHEAP BEER, SO WHAT, FUCK YOU”. These rude dudes boast a fine punk pedigree, two of them being the sons of a member of punk-metal legends T.S.O.L. (their bassist was also in The OC darlings Rooney, but we’ll put that to one side), reflected in a bombastic tune that simultaneously calls “Surfin’ Bird”, Nirvana’s “Tourettes” and Fight For Your Right (To Party) to mind. Wave upon wave of huge riffs keep coming, especially on the relentless “White On White” – sure, it’s about as subtle as a brick to the face, but my goodness is it fun. The lyrical content never raises its brow above “low” level; the tracklisting is pretty indicative of each song’s content, “Max Can’t Surf” decries their drummer Max Keuhn’s lack of skills on a board, and in a surprising turn of events “Wake Bake Skate” is a musing on how Goethe changed the landscape of 19th cen… oh wait, no, it’s another three-chord big dumb romp.
Despite the repetitive themes of the album of partying to excess, carefree attitudes and generally not giving a fuck coming up again and again, the band manage to keep the sound fresh throughout this record’s fourteen tracks, with a cornucopia of influences at play. The Clash are brought to mind on “LDA”, the downtuned vibes and squealing guitars of “Paycheck” make it sound like a Black Rebel Motorcycle Club B-side (in a good way), and “Wait For The Man” (the title itself being a wee nod to The Velvet Underground) has the vibe of what Black Flag’s “Wasted” might sound like 30 years on.
The major misstep of this record is its release at totally the wrong time of year. Wrap this up in your denim cutoffs, book a train to Brighton in June and this will be the perfect soundtrack to your day on the beach surrounded by fag butts, skunked bottles of beer and your slackest friends. FIDLAR are the very essence of youthful exuberance – misogynistic rant “Whore” aside, this record kicks some serious ass and will bring a huge grin to your face in those moments when you’re willing to forego a little substance for maximum style and attitude. The most disappointing thing about reviewing this record is that I didn’t get to use a “FIDLAR on the roof” gag.