Fidlar is a Los Angeles based punk band that released their debut self-titled full length album over a week ago. As a reviewer, it’s easy to dismiss a band like Fidlar. After all, they aren’t re-inventing any wheels here banging ferociously on their guitars and drums while moving through two minute songs at a rapid fire pace. The subject matter of most of the songs here has been covered before. Let’s see…we have drugs? Check. Women? Check. Booze? Check. Skateboarding? Check. And certainly last but not least? The beach and surfing, or in this case not surfing (‘Max Can’t Surf’). These are the topics that any self respecting California based punk band has done over and over again.
The difference between Fidlar and the hundreds of other punk bands singing about hedonism in all its glory is that Fidlar are believable in their quest to self destruction. These guys don’t fuck around. From the album opener ‘Cheap Beer’ (with lyrics like “I like cheap beer. So what? Fuck you!”) to the album closer ‘Cocaine’, the listeners’ ears are assaulted with 14 tales of the bands’ efforts to land on the fast track to hell, but making us enjoy the living shit out of the ride. What comes out of it, is an enjoyable, full-throttled, well crafted album for the listener. Not only does Fidlar like to party their ass off and make us long for the days of unapologetic gluttony, they know how to write some really good songs.
‘No Waves’, the fourth track on the album, is a frantic tune describing the need to shoot up and looking to score. It’s the song’s pace and feel that suggests lead singer Zac Carper has already had enough amphetamines for the night, and would be better off just knowing when to say when. ‘Waves’ is followed by ‘Whore’, a song that channels the bands’ inner Black Lips, a bluesy song rooted in 60’s garage. And it’s not the only song rooted in the 60’s that also suggest a hint of rockabilly as well. ‘Gimme Something’ sounds like a song the band made while smoking some reefer in the back of the van, or as part of a commune. It’s laid back vibe is all California, but it works in the context of the album as a welcomed breather from the furious pace set forth through most of the album.
Fidlar are going to get compared a bunch to contemporaries like Wavves (who I am a huge fan of). They are both California bands, and are even touring together. But I think that comparison is a bit lazy. Yes, there is a dash of Wavves’ sound in Fidlar, in that despite the dark content, there is a distinctly positive vibe in much of the songs. But Fidlar is dirtier than Wavves, and they have more in common with New York City punk rockers the Ramones. They live the seedy underbelly that is L.A., and try to keep out the sunshine that Wavves lets in, likely because they are too busy fighting off their hangovers.
It will be interesting to see where this band goes as their members get older and mature. Then again, you don’t live forever, and Fidlar seems to be very in tune with that knowledge. Shit happens. Might as well enjoy it while you can. That’s what makes Fidlar’s debut album a pleasurable listen. There are no apologies. It’s just good, in your face, rock n’ roll.
Why apologize for that?