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Review: Punk band FIDLAR grows up with new LP ‘Too’

Sometimes punks have to grow up. They have to get a real job, move out of their parents’ house, cover up their stick-and-poke tattoos and dye their hair back to a natural color. If this transformation process had a soundtrack it would be FIDLAR’s Too.

The Los Angeles-based punk/garage act filled all of its debut album and EPs with smoking, drinking and indulging in other illicit substances. These raucous, straight-to-the-point punk jams are what garnered popularity for the band and created a dedicated fan following. But the more gritty, less gimmicky side of that time in FIDLAR’s existence seems to get swept under the rug.

Zac Carper, the band’s frontman, was addicted to meth, crack and heroin throughout the period that FIDLAR gained initial popularity. Now, Carper is clean and that important facet of his life is definitely a large part of this new album. Although FIDLAR’s new material is not all about drinking cheap beer, waking and baking or surfing and skating, Too is definitely still a very fun LP.

Zac Carper sprawled out on the stage after a FIDLAR performance in at Backspace in Portland, Ore. in 2013 (Meerah Powell/Emerald)

Zac Carper sprawled out on the stage after a FIDLAR performance at the Backspace in Portland, Ore. in 2013. (Meerah Powell/Emerald)

Too covers the bases of addiction, rehabilitation, loneliness and anxiety without coming across as a bummer but instead a cathartic release. In an interview with Stereogum, Carper acknowledged that this change in content might come as a shock to fans, but also that that reaction doesn’t necessarily matter to him. “[The] first record is always going to be better than the second record. ‘I liked them better when they didn’t sell out.’ ‘I liked them better when he was on drugs.’ There’s always going to be people saying that […] You’ve just got to roll with it,” Carper said.

Although the sophomore slump is a real and difficult obstacle to overcome, Too has many undeniable strengths. For the most part, Too strays away from the simplistic fast and hard tracks of FIDLAR’s first album and takes a more pop approach with an abundance of catchy hooks and more melody than ever demonstrated by the band. This different approach might cause some to think the band has abandoned the punk idealism completely and sold out, but for Carper “[t]ruly selling out would have been just trying to make the first record over again.”

Although more poppy than its preceding releases, FIDLAR has in no way gone soft in Too with hard-hitters like “Punks,” “Drone” and “Bad Medicine.” Overall, the album serves as a reflective piece for the band’s, and specifically Carper’s, wildest times and the summary of where those times have landed them now. This retrospective view of highs and lows are demonstrated clearly in tracks like “West Coast,” an upbeat rollercoaster ride of past scenarios being carefree and drugged out and the slow, dark, carnival-esque “Overdose” in which Carper swears he is “really gonna try not to overdose again.”

Too shows that FIDLAR has grown and matured without losing sense of themselves, and that a new stylistic direction is not always a bad thing because, “fuck it dog, life’s a risk.”

Too comes out on Sept. 4 and is available to stream on iTunes and Spotify. Listen to Too on Spotify below.


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Meerah Powell

Meerah Powell

Meerah Powell is the Digital Managing Editor for The Daily Emerald. She is currently studying journalism and philosophy at the University of Oregon. Before her current position, she worked as an Arts and Culture writer for the Emerald. She's also worked with Oregon Public Broadcasting, Eugene Weekly, Ethos Magazine and OR Magazine.