Douglas Wolk’s review of “Couple Tracks” by Fucked Up

Fucked Up

Band: Fucked Up

Album: Couple Tracks

Critic: Douglas Wolk

Publication: Pitchfork, 2010

Writing Disorders: Purple Hemorrhage, Ambiguity Sickness




Douglas, I don’t listen to much punk rock, but judging from the way you write, neither do you. This whole review is so blandly worded that if you substituted “classical flute medleys” for “hardcore punk,” it might have been more convincing. If aliens ever want a music lesson from earthlings before they blow our cities to hell, I don’t think you’d be on the short list to explain the genre — at least not with these kinds of phrases:


“Fucked Up’s relationship with twee pop isn’t an outsider’s ha-ha perspective”

“Fucked Up have planted their flag in loud-hard-fast pretty firmly”

“Pink Eyes sounds absolutely committed in his howls”


Before I go any further with your fruity loops, I’ve got a bone to pick with your intro. I don’t like it.


“Fucked Up are arguably the best hardcore album band of at least the last 20 years”


Maybe even the last 6,000! I think the Old Kingdom in Egypt had a pretty killer gourd-playing sextet that might have topped this band.* Douglas, you can take some comfort in that you’re just one of many writers who use the word “arguably” way too much. And by way too much, I mean at all. What the hell does the word “arguably” even mean? To me it’s nothing more than a cheap way to avoid naming people who share the particular opinion that you’ve inflated as weighty consensus. The phrase “Howard the Duck is arguably the best movie of the past 40 years” holds potentially the same volume of water as the opinion sitting under your “arguably” umbrella. Instead of writing the way Fox News reports, you might try FEELING or THINKING that Fucked Up are the best hardcore album band of at least the last 20 years. I know it’s hard to own up to your opinion, but please try, Douglas.


This review was a cornucopia of stupid metaphors, but this one took the cake:


“Damian “Pink Eyes” Abraham’s steel-wool bellow is the central point of their sound”


Oh, does their sound revolve around removing stubborn baked-on lasagna from a pan? How does the band manage to amplify the scratching sound of metal on metal into a bellow to suit their needs? Look, Douglas, I get that you probably mean this guy’s bellow has a certain raw texture to it, but do you honestly think swallowing steel wool would simply result in a good punk rock voice? Not that I really want to know for sure, but I imagine it’d more likely end in a lot of gagging, internal bleeding, wet gurgling sounds, and shock.


Here’s another bit that rubbed my balls the wrong way:


“The less impressive songs here, on the other hand, are just really well-played hardcore with a huge guitar sound, for which there’s something to be said.”


What something is that? If there’s something to be said, why didn’t you say it? In your next sentence, you just blather on about how one of the songs “might be a parody of lunkheadbanging straightedge anthems.” If there was truly something to be said about the huge guitar sound, you might have just focused on that instead of writing that the songs are “less impressive” as a lead-in for your clunky invented word.


Douglas, in the end I’d say your writing lives up to the D+ you gave this band’s album. Say what you want about “lunkheadbanging,” but at least it’s got energy. You don’t.


*I’ve been told that this hypothetical Egyptian band could not have recorded an album, and would therefore be out of the running for best hardcore album band. They just had papyrus back then.

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