The Southern California slacker punks of FIDLAR started out humbly, playing their first show at a Culver City park in conjunction with a bike riding party organized by a local DIY collective. A year later, they were opening up for Fucked Up in L.A. and by early 2012 were garnering enough press to generate a plethora of buzz surrounding their SXSW shows. All of this built on not much more than a couple of singles, a nine-minute-long EP and a Tumblr. Despite music that insists priorities based around cheap beer, skating and partying, FIDLAR has managed enough work to become a blog favorite whose garage punk, surf guitars and namesake motto (Fuck It Dog, Life’s A Risk) has resonated across the country ahead of its first proper album.
The album provides a handful of reworks of previously released tracks (“No Waves,” “Max Can’t Surf,” “Wake, Bake, Skate”) in addition to several new ones to boast 14 songs in total. Except for “Cheap Beer” (“I drink cheap beer, so what? Fuck you!”), the new material often finds the band maturing above its tendency toward brash songs about getting drunk and high. “White On White” displays them at their most evolved state, combining a shredding guitar riff, several blasts of a wildly bluesy solo and screaming vocals. Likewise, “Whore” still sticks to blasting power chords but feels like a more consciously constructed song, whereas “Max Can’t Surf” comes off as just an excuse to clown their drummer. Both in FIDLAR’s attitude and music, there’s always a little bit of Black Lips, but “Blackout Stout” and “Wait For The Man,” two of the album’s stronger tracks, might be where the line between the two becomes pretty blurred.
There’s inherently nothing wrong with writing songs about getting wasted and having a good time. It’s been done well by many from the Ramones to Andrew W.K. Especially on album closer “Cocaine,” FIDLAR does this well too by having enough substance from the power and intensity in the music to make lyrics like “All I want for breakfast is my good cocaine” more digestible. However, over the course of 14 songs, when the emotional range is the difference between singing, “I just wanna get really high” and “I feel like shooting up,” the content can wear on you—or, much like Andrew W.K.’s party music before it, it can fuel you.