Fucked Up bear an extravagance that nestles them comfortably into many genres. The band mean no harm in being more concept-heavy, yet they stride away from the profound. It is fair to call Dose Your Dreams accessible, if one does not account for its connection to their previous record David Comes to Life. In that case, listeners should lean toward the variety posited by the band. Those accustomed to listening to Titus Andronicus’ The Most Lamentable Tragedy would find solace in this Toronto-based band’s artistic directions. The band craft an album where attentions are honed toward the sound rather than the concept.
Regardless of whether one understands Fucked Up’s stories, it is easy to feel the adrenaline of the band vicariously. Damian Abraham’s powerful vocals have a passion that’s infectious and has carried on through the band’s discography. Dose Your Dreams is more than a fusion of the softer control of Glass Boys and the runaway chaos of David Comes to Life. It is the exploration of genres, instruments, and soundscapes that make the band’s recent effort their most divergent from their hardcore roots. These are amped by guest vocals by artists like J Mascis and Jennifer Castle.
As expected from a record named Dose Your Dreams, there is a lot of dream talk. The theme almost always connects with the record’s effervescent sound, especially when Abraham temporarily resigns his seat for another vocal presence. Way down the album’s length is “Came Down Wrong”, a song with J. Mascis coming with a sound familiar to him. Defining the entire album’s theme of love is the lyric, “Dreams are the pills that I take / Hoping you’ll be there when I wake.”
It is an album about love and wanting to die due to the pressures of the modern world. Quitting a job. Quitting everyone else. Except for this dream figure. It is the cathartic, contradictory desire that is only fitting of a band like Fucked Up to take.
It is only natural for the instrumentation of the album to hoist that cathartic depth. Dose Your Dreams manages to impress by how headstrong Jonah Falco’s percussion is. Tracks like “Tell Me What You See”, “Dose Your Dreams”, and “Accelerate” highlight this aspect, with the common link being how these are tracks that a fictional character like Scott Pilgrim would burst out with. The electronic songs find their way to make impressions, too. “Torch to Light” is inspired by a Portishead sound and “Mechanical Bull” heralds a Skinny Puppy vibe. There are notes of David Bowie (“I Don’t Wanna Live in this World Anymore”), Pulp (“Normal People”), the Beatles (“Love Is an Island in the Sea”), and Joy Division (“The One I Want Will Come for Me”) that seep their way into the record.
Dose Your Dreams should be an album whose detractors would attack for never wholeheartedly explore each genre’s beat. There would be the notion that different sections should split the album with single genres encompassing each. But to dally on that is counterintuitive to what Fucked Up are. They want to posit the feeling of being headstrong in both one’s loves and death wishes. They are the punch in the wall from anger and for victory. Lyrically and conceptually they are scattered, but instrumentally and vocally, there is an open-mindedness that rends you. Ironically, in an album that talks about dying, there is a never say die attitude that latches on and never lets go.