“I drink cheap beer, so what, fuck you,” yells frontman Zac Carper on the chorus of Cheap Bear, the opening song from Fidlar’s debut album. It’s a suitable opener from the LA punk band, setting up the alcohol and drug-fueled scene where they spend the whole of their eponymous album. With a name that is apparently an acronym for ‘Fuck It Dog, Life’s A Risk’ – a catchphrase gleaned from skateboarders in California – it’s hardly surprising that the angsty four-piece are unashamedly brash. In fact, it’s safe to say that if you have been put off already, then the rest of Fidlar’s 14-track debut is unlikley to change your mind.
As the latest signing to Wichita Records, Fidlar should find themselves at home among similar punk-rock enthusiasts, such as The Cribs and fellow LA residents The Bronx. However, while Fidlar have similarities with those acts, the band are more worried about reviving the sound of late 1970s punk music. With only a few songs making it past the three-minute mark – brevity being one of the key punk ingredients – their three-chord thrashing is certain to conjure up memories of The Ramones, The Clash and The Cramps, to name just a few.
Fidlar’s affinity for their punk ancestors is not necessarily a bad thing, either. They clearly know exactly what they want to sound like and their no-nonsense approach is infectious. “I don’t care if you think it’s cool/ fucked up and I’m ditching school,” barks Carper on Stoked And Broke, where the crashing guitars and repetitive beat complements the band’s carefree rock’n’roll attitude. No Waves is another album highlight, with its thrilling spiky guitar riff and lyrics that explore some of the pitfalls of living life so fast and loose: “I feel, feel like I’m a grandpa/ I feel, feel like I’m already 80 years old.”
Blackout Stout also sees the quartet in captivating form, with a squirming guitar riff and thumping drum beat laying the foundations for one of the catchiest choruses on the album. Elsewhere, Whore pretty much does what it says on the tin, with Carper repeatedly berating a lady friend over a stuttering riff: “Why did you go betray me?/ You’re such a whore/ I stay at home drinking/ you’re such a whore.” Then there’s the slower paced and more pop-orientated Gimmie Something and LDA, which get a bit lost amongst the more raucous and spirited tracks on the album.
While Fidlar’s debut does have a tendency to wonder towards the mindless end of the spectrum, their eponymous album, for the most part, is actually quite accomplished. Wait For The Man is a confident, strutting burst of punk rock, with the nonchalant chorus capturing Fidlar at their very best. Yet it is seven-minute closer Cocaine that really sums up the band’s hedonistic approach to life, with a chunky riff setting the basis for Carper’s ferocious vocal, as he repeatedly screams: “Cocaine, run around in my brain.” In an age where music can often take itself too seriously, Fidlar’s crazed, and often anti-melodic, meanderings about drugs, alcohol and being young are refreshing.
The album is not without its faults, though, with the near 40-minute running time being one of the main criticisms. The songs may be brisk, but there is often the sense that the band have spread themselves to thinly, adding in pointless tracks like Wake Bake Skate. It’s also possible to level the argument that Fidlar’s music is vacuous and inane, but if you have such an opinion then it’s unlikely this album is meant for you. Ultimately, Fidlar know their audience and their tales of excess and moral abandonment will suit them down to the ground.