The very foundation of classic hardcore is a lot like the very foundation of, say, classic liberalism. Both are structured in the sturdiness of a common sense simplicity and directness. However, that sturdiness contains more than a few vulnerabilities and lo, the foundation is dust and everything is rebuilt in a form that is only partially recognizable. The striking contrast between the two is that one’s change is for better, the other for worse.
In the eyes of traditional hardcore, Fucked Up are the ultimate heretics. They have countless offenses under their belt, all of them being terrifically enticing and explosive. Aside from the rumors of alignments to Nazi mysticism, fascism, cultish mind control and various other allusions to the morbidly esoteric, Fucked Up’s most heinous crime, given the absurdity that hardcore occasionally wallows in, is the fact that they write sings that go beyond two minutes, to wit, some, like the title track on this EP stretch very close to 20 minutes. “Year of the Pig” is an eclectic recipe of organs and other keys, angelic female vocals reminiscent of Maria Christopher of 27 and a very schizophrenic structure altogether that, when presented in bare, makes total sense to the adventurous. It’s compelling, it’s maddening, it’s also not the focal point of Fucked Up’s spirit.
Hardcore bands have been stretching the sound itself into all sorts of previously unforeseen extremes for over ten years, well, even longer than that I should say. But where a band like Dillinger Escape Plan is cathartic and Thoughts of Ionesco is transcendent nihilism, Fucked Up is cerebral philosophy of liberation. Fucked up is hardcore’s answer to Murray Rothbard’s Circle Bastiat—a cadre of angry young pranksters who create a world out of ideas and enrapture their audiences with said ideas. The EP is centered around the theme of women’s rights, more specifically, the rights of streetwalkers, sex workers and so forth. Even more now the hardcore song is turned on its end. Instead of kowtowing to the PC forces with a muddled lecture of victimhood and vague equality, the band add depth to the idea by reminding us that sex workers suffer heinous amounts of abuse and, despite their chosen line of work, are still entitled to protection and rights.
The B-side of this release, “The Black Hats,” is far more standard—for Fucked Up’s standards that is. Instead of 18 minutes, it’s five. Instead of odd flirtations with alternative ambience, there is straightforward, skeletal hardcore fury. The essence of the hardcore as well as the punk spirit is not lost on these travelers of the path of extremes and radical intellectual betterment.