Fucked Up – David Comes to Life

Fucked Up
David Comes to Life
Matador Records

Dear Fucked Up,

I’m having a bit of an internal issue, and I am sorry to say that my brain is going to vomit out some nonsense in response to your album, David Comes to Life and some of your aesthetic and production decisions and a bunch of other stuff that does not have to do with the actual music of David Comes to Life. I didn’t plan for this to happen. I’ve been listening to the album for weeks now since I got it on the By Early, Get Now program in which I dropped like $42 dollars to get double vinyl and some seven inches and a slew of other shit. I did this because the story you were talking about and the manner in which you presented it in press leading up to the release was intriguing. I want to just say, I really love the music on this album. I think that this is the culmination of your band to this point. I feel the guest vocals are finally appropriate and make sense for the band and that, despite being a bit of a dramatic rock opera, this is the most focused, fully realized Fucked Up album or project you fine Canadians have pulled off.

But I am having a crisis in relation to music and privilege these days. Actually, I’m having a lot of issues with the privilege filter in relationship to the world. And while some of this is an obvious internal struggle, I am channeling it through the world of these overwrought blog posts that I write. And as I think about David Comes to Life, this massive product that I have spent money I don’t really have and I think about David’s plight, as much of it as I have absorbed, I can’t help but balance it against this existential crisis I am experiencing.

David, in some ways does come to life and does so in a manner similar to my awakening. I have worked in factories before too, but I also spent ten years working in a corporate job for a financial institution in which my job was to protect and recover money stolen from said institution. This job was often at odds with my personal world view. What the fuck did I care if some Nigerians or Russians stole money from a bank that underpaid me and gave “golden parachutes” to CEO’s that continually decreased profitability and viability of the bottom line where my meager paycheck came from? And soon, I became disillusioned, desiring a revolutionary action much like the one David attempts to undertake. And while this is romantic, it is the romantic story of people who have obviously never lacked access to they system, who have never had to struggle, I mean really struggle.

I worked with a fair amount of people who, despite having full-time employment, in seats adjacent to mine, did have to struggle. And while my paycheck barely covered all my expenses, many people around me were not so fortunate. This is partially because the system is inherently racist and sexist and these people, women, single mothers, “minorities”, gays were often passed over for raises and promotions, punished by management for their differences in how they worked, the communities they were from and how they communicated. I can’t help but notice that the protagonists in your story are all white, working class (based on the historical mythology), presumably straight people who have the privilege of feeling this uproar.

Society allows even the middle class, white kids, raised in the same discontent, this kind of outrage. And it’s not that this outrage that David feels is unwarranted, but it’s misaligned. Does this act of terrorism he had planned, that eventually damages and kills someone he love benefit those that do not have a voice and a choice? Because there must be people in this light bulb factory who live in communities that are truly disenfranchised that rely on these jobs of meager skill and meager empowerment to survive because they are not allowed to be included.

And so this begs the question, why the grandiose of this release? After all, you want to tell a story about the working class to the working class, but the working class doesn’t really have access to this story. Don’t get me wrong, I love the album, the layout and your aesthetic. I love the extra songs that continue the tale, and add more layers. I love the compilation David’s Town and how it adds more detail and color and helps me relate. But it’s not accessible from a purely economic point of view. I don’t totally fault you for this in an environment of intellectual theft. All the kids are stealing music and you clearly put a lot of work into this. The days of Sandinista! are over, sadly I know. But the verbosity of this project is already a hindrance and ultimately you are speaking to the hipsters, too self involved to actually give a shit what you’re talking about, or to idiots like me, who already over-think these things. This isn’t so much a critique and an observation and a question. But I can’t help think about Joe Strummer and D Boon and all they taught us about trying to connect punk rock with the people who need it the most. The intellectuals and the cool crowd are not those people. Can we brainstorm new ideas, new methods and new means of reaching out to create this dialog? Because I do love this story. Beyond all these questions and this crisis of mine, I connect and relate to it deeply. Not just on an intellectual level, but on an emotional and visceral level as well. This is the power of punk rock and I want more people to hear it. Not just as ripped MP3’s stolen from mediafire or sharespace, but through the beautiful visuals that accompany it, with the giant poster sized lyric sheet spread across the floor, tactile and fully engaged.

After all this musings however, I am still compelled to joy. The buzzing guitars are awesome as always, Damien’s bark warms my heart, the cutting hits and blasts make me excited. Those that don’t engage with patience are missing out on a truly great work of art. The flaws of context are not those of your own personal failings. My own ramblings here come from a place of privilege, despite unemployment and rapid declines in wanting to re-engage in the system of work for commerce. I realize that my choice to even buy this epic story was one that so many people don’t have and my participation makes me complicit in the same questions I ask. But the music drives me first and foremost and through the last several years, while I have been intrigued, now I am fully vested. David Comes to Life is a monumental achievement, and I am glad to praise it amongst the waves of adoration.

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