Despite the relatively distorted production most commonly associated with their formula, FIDLAR have always been a product of the pop punk found in the 90s and early 2000s. From the simplicity of the instrumental arrangement to the vocal inflections and the non-conformist sentiment of their lyrics, they have taken a number of cues from bands who sought to spotlight a demographic consisting of socially awkward teenagers. And while this approach left their first two Eps “DIYDUI” and “Shit we record in our bedroom” somewhat suffering from infantile humour and derivative lyrical content, “Don’t Try…” and their eponymous debut album were far more mature, interesting and well produced.
Their sophomore effort, “Too”, actually barely suffers from the regular tropes found in pop punk at all, excluding the singles “West Coast”, which feature the lyrics “Checked out and waited for the weekend” and “Skipped school I’m already failing, told mom and dad that I’m bailing”, and “40oz. On Repeat” which opens with the lyrical gem “Well I’ve tried to ask you out about a thousand times but in my head you just always say no”. While these lyrics could be siphoned straight from the pool of pop punk clichés, I still find these songs absolutely charming, as the fuzzy, gnarled instrumental production lends them bite and vigour, and their impactful choruses are exactly what I came into this album expecting.
There are unfortunately some fairly unbearable moments, such as the strange staccato verses polluted by some of the most cringe inducing lyrics found on “Sober”, and the twee radio friendly production of “Why Generation”. Non-conformity rears its ugly head as the band ironically conform to genre formula on “Drones”. But in the case of most of these tracks the earworm chorus absolutely absolves them of any wrong doing, as is the case with almost every track on the album.
Towards the end of the album there are even some genuinely touching and mature approaches to the damage done by substance abuse, such as on “Overdose” on which Zac Carper moans that he “can’t breathe” and which has by far the most haunting and creative instrumental composition on the album. “Stupid Decisions” laments previous questionable behaviour as does “Bad Habits”.
While I occasionally find it hard to ignore the obnoxious lyricism on this album, I’m simply enamoured by the charisma the band emanate and their tireless conviction to writing some of the catchiest hooks in indie music. Add to this the new found maturity and subtlety and you have an album that I enjoyed immensely, and would recommend you buy in hard copy format.