If FIDLAR’s self-titled 2013 release was a kid in your high school class then it’d be the guy with no regard for the dress code, who cut class to go smoke a spliff in the bike shed, and was found at the skate park on the weekends doing more of the same. Their sophomore effort, Too, is that same kid still, but he’s come back after summer break with a haircut and a sudden desire to grow up and start acting his age. Of all the tracks on the West Coast quartet’s second album, ‘Stupid Decisions’ best epitomises FIDLAR’s newly realised maturity: “I didn’t talk enough / And I took too many drugs / And I drank too much / Yeah, I made some / Stupid decisions / And I can’t take them back”.
FIDLAR’s reinvention is spurred on by newly-clean frontman Zac Carper, cleaned of everything from meth to booze following a band intervention. In a recent interview with Consequence of Sound [http://consequenceofsound.net/2015/08/fidlar-stupid-decisions/], Carper has shed light on some of the traumatic experiences which have been shaping forces in this record, including losing both his girlfriend and unborn child to an overdose.
During this period, FIDLAR itself even came close to breaking up, owing to their frontman’s self-destructive tendencies. With all this considered, it’s perhaps no wonder that Too is a far cleaner sounding record than its predecessor.
Zac might have cleaned up his act but, as is the case for any junkie, the itch never goes away completely. There is evidently still a part of FIDLAR which wants to scream and shout about cheap beer and cocaine; ‘Bad Habits’ combats this feeling with a surprising level of self-awareness, whilst ‘Overdose’ explores the helplessness associated with narcotic dependency: “Tried to do the therapy / But that didn’t work for me / Really gonna try not to overdose again”.
Attitude isn’t all that’s changed since 2013’s FIDLAR. Musically, the almost slapstick quality of the band’s punk sound has been refined and – dare I say it – even made radio-friendly, possibly due to the influence of producer Jay Joyce helping add more depth and instrumentation to their work. ‘West Coast’ in particular seems to be screaming for alternative radio DJs to whack it on their playlists; it’s an anthem for apathetic youths, tired of being bored and wallowing in their suburban sinkholes: “I’m so sick of this stupid place / It’s so suburban and so boring”. Originally released back in 2012 for the Shit We Recorded in Our Bedroom EP, the track has been re-mastered for Too and is a raucous fun-sounding gem which is an incontestable standout. Likewise, ‘Why Generation’ is a surprisingly insightful commentary about the insidious presence of technology in our lives, and its Big Brother undertones are a real contrast to the immature and frankly juvenile subject matter of FIDLAR.
Fans might be disappointed with the band’s newfound maturity, but whilst there’s less dope on Too, there’s also more hope for the longevity of the band. If it means FIDLAR will be alive and well for years to come, then we think any naysayers will come round eventually, realising that we all need to grow up – some day.