Published Sep 02, 2015On their self-titled debut, FIDLAR sold themselves as a gang of drunk and stoned fuck-ups. The Los Angeles-based garage punks practiced what they preached, but it became too much for frontman Zac Carper. Out of rehab, he had to decide: stay the course and sell a lie or change things up and risk losing the band's identity.
Carper chose the latter, and FIDLAR are all the better for it. While they can no longer lay claim to being garage-punk's booziest bros, Too digs deep lyrically and sonically, proving that tracks like the Exile-era Stones vibes of "Gimme Something" from their debut were more than fleeting moments of brilliance.
On the surface, lead track "40oz On Repeat" suggests that little has changed, but over a staccato guitar riff, the newly clean Carper howls about the loneliness and depression that accompany sobriety. Jealous of his band mates' relationships, he's locked himself inside his room with Sublime's 40oz to Freedom on loop to sooth his mental state.
Carper's exploration of sobriety — how it affects both himself and the people around him — forms the lyrical backbone of an album that otherwise ups the ante on FIDLAR's raucous sound. Nashville producer Jay Joyce (Cage the Elephant, Eric Church) helmed recording sessions, and his deft hand ensures the hooks are front and centre. The previously demoed "West Coast" gets a new coat of paint and a final verse, while extra instrumentation helps bring heretofore unheard nuance on songs like the Weezer-esque "Why Generation."
The harrowing "Overdose," and the stadium-sized slow burn of "Stupid Decision" offer rare moments in which FIDLAR take their foot off the gas to smell the roses; they also lay bare the selfish consequences of Carper's addiction.
Abandoning their lyrical raison d'etre — even one as superficial as an affinity for cheap booze and hard drugs — could have killed FIDLAR. Instead, the change brought a newfound clarity, pulling them out of the tallboy-swigging garage rock ghetto. In shedding the shackles of expectation, FIDLAR finally found their soul. (Dine Alone)