Fucked Up – David Comes to Life Fucked Up – David Comes to Life

Man, I wish this was “Born to Run”. I thought it was for a minute (or, really, a few weeks). Big, heartstrung guitars, band tight as fuck and a…um…”passionate” vocalist rasping stories about hard working men and harder won loves. Loss, death, God. A unified theory of everyman battered, bruised, defeated and ultimately redeemed. And the band sounds twenty thousand times larger and infinitely louder than even the most unreasonable sextets could ever be.

But it’s not.

But it might be.

Shit. Okay.

David Comes to Life is a big, beautiful record that is unabashedly pretentious and thoroughly confuses the fuck out of me.

The story loosely follows a man named David from his job at a light bulb factory in England circa 70s who falls in love with an anarchist and shit gets blown up and she dies and suddenly there’s another narrator and then his ex and a then benevolent deified someone and then everything’s okay? I don’t know, really. Even considering the companion album that came out as a limited Record Store Day run (“David’s Town” – a collection of music by fictitious bands [played by Fucked Up] that the protagonist would have enjoyed in his lifetime) and the 4 x 7”s that accompany the special edition vinyl of this release or the act by act (There are four. Did I mention this is a rock opera? Because it is), song by song exposition that can be found at http://www.davidcomestolife.com I’m still not really sure what the fuck all is going on with the narrative and I’m honestly not sure that the band does either.

So maybe David Comes to Life is not so much “Born to Run” as it is “Quadrophenia” (no one understands Pete Townsend). Maybe it’s “Quadrophenia” as interpreted by the E Street Band. Maybe it’s “Quadrophenia” as interpreted by the E Street Band while Roger Miret has an old-school NYHC bark off with Lou Koller on the subject of Marxist Theory v. Sankara’s Dictum v. Molotov Cocktails as part of a (extra? super?) postmodern summer stock staging of Our Town.

Actually, fuck Thornton Wilder. This shit is full-on William T. Vollmann – all madness and violence and beauty coupled with a profound sense of “What the fuck?” though with a considerably more pedestrian sense of incidental poetry (sorry…ugh…10,000 Marbles. Your libretto might read profound and may even have a certain historically topical accuracy but what does manage to transcend…ugh…Pink Eyes’ roar comes off a little TOO written).

So maybe not?

See? See the problem of this record? It’s trying to do and be everything that made a difference to everyone who made a difference while being alternately exclamatory and off-putting and though its ambition is pure its delivery falls just the slightest bit short which is a strange thing to say for an 18 track, 80 minute album that has a complimentary album and four expository 7”s.

Maybe that’s the whole crux of this record. Maybe there’s just too much to David Comes to Life. Too many songs (I always get lost in the third act), too many ideas, too much of everything. It stands to reason that if the periphery is as deep and as relevant as the subject at hand, then the subject’s lacking in substance.

So let’s whip out Occam’s Razor.

Cut the fat that comes with this release. Trim the notion that it’s a bigger idea that’s been burgeoning for years in releases well pre-dating the official “David” era of Fucked Up (“David’s Christmas”, etc.) and just look at this as an album. Singular. Sole. Only.


You can’t.

Because to do that would do a disservice to this record. Yes, it’s awesome. There are songs that you’ll play over and over until you’re dead even if you don’t ever know what the fuck it is you’re screaming. There’s tenderness. There’s bombast. There’s the ebb and flow of the human experience. Not everyone will like it. Most people won’t even know that this album even exists no matter how furiously NPR censors the band’s name or Matador works to promote a mystical cannon.

David Comes to Life is Fucked Up’s magnum opus. It is what they’ve been hinting at and gearing towards for the entirety of their career. And, no, I don’t understand it all. And, yes, it can be somewhat obvious, occasionally boring and absurd. But many of the songs on David Comes to Life (e.g. “Queen of Hearts”, “A Little Death”, “One More Night”) will be the most unique and meaningful expressions of the human experience that you’ll ever shout and what falls beside is still inspired.

This is a band at their creative zenith.


1. Let Her Rest
2. Queen Of Hearts
3. Under My Nose
4. The Other Shoe
5. Turn The Season
6. Running On Nothing
7. Remember My Name
8. A Slanted Tone
9. Serve Me Right
10. Truth I Know
11. Life In Paper
12. Ship Of Fools
13. A Little Death
14. I Was There
15. Inside A Frame
16. The Recursive Girl
17. One More Night
18. Lights Go Up

Fucked Up - David Comes to Life, reviewed by Charles on 2011-07-14T07:10:23-07:00 rating 4.7 out of 5

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