It should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with Fucked Up’s ambitious concept albums that even when they decide to exercise restraint, they do so with a remarkably theatrical flourish. The Canadian hardcore outfit’s sixth record, One Day, takes its name from the manner in which it was created—that is, entirely within the confines of 24 hours. Initially written by guitarist Mike Haliechuk across three studio sessions of eight hours each, it was then sent off to the rest of the band, who all stuck to the one-day-rule as they crafted their respective parts. For those who aren’t yet impressed (wasn’t that standard operating procedure for the Ramones?), don’t forget Fucked Up’s usual outings tend to take the form of dense, complex, melodramatic epics whose length easily runs north of an hour. One Day, then, poses a meaningful challenge to its author: is it possible for Fucked Up to capture their signature sound—philosophical brooding wrapped in rugged, mosh-ready extravagance—in far less time than such an endeavour really demands? And, if they can’t, what will they make instead?
One Day is certainly among Fucked Up’s least aggressive releases, though there is still a pleasing amount of sonic variation. “Lords of Kensington” and “Cicada” both feature moments of soft, sensitive, almost dreamlike vocal performances (courtesy of Haliechuk in the latter example, where he takes on lead singing duties) that are a comforting contrast to Damian Abraham’s usual vocal aggression. Meanwhile, “Nothing’s Immortal” is a curiously pretty tune, feeling almost like the Fucked Up take on a nursery rhyme—Abraham’s throat-shredding yells are once again center stage and sounding as gruff as ever, but they’re shadowed in the chorus by a dainty xylophone riff that rather takes the edge off, making those coughing-up-gravel bellows far more adorable than ever thought possible. “Falling Right Under” fearlessly oscillates between a series of triumphant, fanfare-like verses, pounding and triumphant enough to get your hair to stand on end, and a slow, sleepy, languorous chorus, calming and sweet enough to sit you back down again as it bathes you all over in transcendent fuzz. And opener “Found” is the perfect expression of Fucked Up’s trademark formula—boisterous, joyful punk rock punctuated with a victorious, battle-cry chorus.
There are perhaps one or two songs that don’t fare quite so well, which is easily forgiven when you remember the strictness of the band’s self-imposed constraints. But that there’s so little filler to speak of does provide something of an answer to the question of whether Fucked Up could produce a work up to their usual standard despite a tricky time limit.
One Day doesn’t plumb the depths of style and genre in the same way that 2019’s Dose Your Dreams does, for example, nor is it as lyrically sophisticated as, say, David Comes To Life. But this speaks more to the sensational power behind the band’s previous records than to any specific failings of this one, and perhaps the most important thing One Day shows us is what is at the constant core of Fucked Up’s songwriting philosophy. It may not be the band’s magnum opus; but as a glimpse into their collective psyche and a definitive mission statement, it’s indispensable. Above all, the record is a joyful exploration of adventure, renewal, and the importance of seizing the day—especially when you only have one.
Buy this album: