Dine Alone Records
FIDLAR, rising stars and rabble-rousers of the Southern-California garage rock scene first gained notoriety most notably from lead singer Zac Carper’s meth and heroin-fuelled antics. It didn’t hurt that the video for their single, “Cocaine”, featured Nick Offerman marking his territory all over Hollywood. A stint in rehab for Carper after touring with the Pixies and the Hives put the band on hiatus, but now they’re back with their sophomore effort, Too.
FIDLAR could be mistaken for Guttermouth lite. The kind of band that could get itself banned from Canada for… well, let’s not go there. But also the kind of band that is fully capable of pulling off both party anthems and deeply introspective lyrically-driven music. While their debut album was straightforward garage rock with a heavily distorted surf sound, Too makes a point of not being pigeon-holed.
“40oz. On Repeat” is the radio-friendly first single – similar to Blink-182’s older, more insecure songs. It’s not the strongest track on the album, but the video makes up for it – with a barrage of iconic music videos from Suicidal Tendencies, to Devo, to Missy Elliot getting the “Be Kind, Rewind” treatment.
“West Coast” is a return to their surf rock roots, reminiscent of a bleary morning after. “Why Generation” is a nod to the Who’s “The Kids Are Alright” – complete with mod guitar licks. “Sober” is an ironic “Institutionalized” for millennials.
Being no stranger to the twelve steps, each track could be a step addressed. Carper admits to having a problem and makes amends with “Bad Habits” and “Stupid Decisions”. “Overdose” is a relapse – and the most experimental track on the album. It’s such a departure that if you didn’t know any better you’d swear it was Modest Mouse – met with twangy Velvet Underground effects and a Nirvana finish.
While far from perfect, Too is still a vastly stronger outpouring than FIDLAR’s self-titled debut album, released in 2013. Carper’s lyrics are a more mature form of juvenilia this time around. The experimental risks taken have paid off – often making for the best tracks on the album. If Carper can stay on the straight and narrow I think we can expect to hear bigger and bolder sounds coming from FIDLAR in the future.