I am always hesitant to have strong opinions on music. As a reviewer, I can easily take shots without putting my beating heart above the parapet, but, unfortunately, any opinion at all would probably contain more meaning and passion than this sticky mess (I had to!).
F.C&R debuted with Blossom, a rage-filled album perfect for breaking onto the scene, a burning loud, obnoxious thing, whose rough edges were obscured by the pure passion involved.
Punk like this lives and dies by its mix and lyrics. Blossom was chaotic but avoided just being noise, while the lyrics had little weight, but were rhythmic enough to not descend into pure shouting. FC&R then interestingly transitioned into the more melodic ‘Modern Ruin’ and ‘EoS’, with the Rattlesnakes’ crackling and buzzing bass still supplying the bite.
The new album opens with ‘Sticky’, which obscenely declares the return to blossom’s style, but its modge of conflicting lyrics and tones makes it lack direction. The album continues this half-hearted callback. Lyrics about nights out feel disingenuous after the past year (the massive event only gets a brief mention), especially when mixed with a hollow sound that feels like noise for the sake of it, a fumbling grab at the original blossoming sound.
It poses the question of why has FC&R felt the need to take this step back, even while it has been surpassed by others, like Airways, who capture a night’s out tumble out of control perfectly.
I feel the need to mention other bands, as I want to press that FC&R were never particularly original, but they were evolving. After a year in lockdown, they could have experimented and poured the pent-up rage into something that carried blossoms burning spark, rather than a limp recreation of something that was never perfect.
IDLES have taken that Anti-Nowhere League rage and added lyrics so loaded they chant themselves. Speaking of which, by far the best song on this album is ‘My Town’, whose strong lyrics make it feel like a counterpart to IDLES Model Village. And it is - I took a double-take as a familiar ranting voice cements that this album has no spirit of its own.
If you want to pretend 2 years haven't gone by, then this album does that.