Freakishly nostalgic
Cian Kinsella
11:16 17th March 2023

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Being put onto FIDLAR in the summer of 2012 was a defining moment for me. Finally! Confirmation that there are cool and fun things in the world. The EPs Don’t Try and DIYDUI (not on Spotify; where is it???) were less of a soundtrack to my formative years than an ethos – iykyk, and if you don’t then look up what FIDLAR stands for. Their influence on me and my friendship group was so great that when I was later introduced to Parquet Courts, they were dubbed ‘New York’s FIDLAR’. I even know several people with ‘FIDLAR’ stick n’ poked on their knees.

So in 2023 I’m lying in bed, typing away in a room I pay almost half my paycheck to live in (without bills), and I stare at FIDLAR’s 2023 EP title and think to myself: ‘That’s life!’ The Vans Authentic shoe and rolled up blue jeans on That’s Life’s cover tell me comfortingly that the band are spiritually still in the simpler times of 2013. As I grow older (24 at time of writing), they seem to stay the same age (i.e. also 24). This is one of the best things about FIDLAR.

My friends and I – or maybe it was just my friends, and I wanted to fit in – felt betrayed when FIDLAR came out. Why did they slow down ‘Wake Bake Skate’? Then 2015’s Too only reopened a wound I’d spent two years trying to heal.

"Freakishly nostalgic..."

After all this hurt, That’s Life is doing what it should: less is more. Opener ‘Centipede’ has the same four chords almost the whole way through, and uses the classic quiet verse/loud chorus formula that some do well and others do terribly. It reminds me a lot of ‘Buck Rogers’ by Feeder, one of the best songs ever. Then ‘Sand On The Beach’ sounds like a more sophisticated and heartfelt ‘No Waves’ from Don’t Try.

That’s Life feels very timely, and perhaps that’s because it’s so freakishly nostalgic. It might be crude to compare new music to older, more famous music in a review, but here I think it is necessary. The chorus of ‘On Drugs’ is just an interpolation from Basement Jaxx’s ‘Where’s Your Head At’, throwing us back to both the early 00s and Disney Skate on Playstation 2. ‘Taste The Money’ gets heavier and half-time in the chorus, scratching the Sum 41 ‘Fat Lip’ itch like nothing else does.

Teenage me would probably be ashamed to know that my future self might use a pretentious word like motorik to describe a lot of this EP. Or maybe he’d be proud. Either way, ‘On Drugs’ and ‘Taste The Money’ sound a lot like IDLES in that sense, but in place of unwieldy lyrics about men’s mental health, Carper sings about using drugs instead of looking after his mental health.

The corny, unabashed lyrics are both the EP’s strong point and its biggest flaw. While ‘On Drugs’ uses lowbrow wordplay humorously, ‘FSU’ sounds like it was written by a teenager who’s just realised that the sky doesn’t literally fall down if you swear. It’s cringe, and the cringe is worsened because it sounds like that very same teenager also just heard metal music for the same time.

That’s Life is tied together by a distinctive sound: big walls of textured guitars with a pop punk accent, catchy hooks, lyrics about drugs and alcohol, lots of swearing, more lyrics about drugs and alcohol. And like FIDLAR’s best releases thus far, it’s over in less than 15 minutes. But there’s enough variation that it features feelgood anthems like ‘Sand On The Beach’ and a track with a Drive Like Jehu, post-hardcore edge like ‘Taste The Money’. I think I have forgiven FIDLAR.

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