review: Fucked Up 'Year of the Tiger', plus stream all the Chinese Zodiac singles

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Is it still ok to refer to Fucked Up as a hardcore punk band? With their extensive and ambitious discography it seems unfair to pigeonhole them into just one genre. In 2011 they released one of the albums of the year, "David Comes to Life" which was in their own terms a "rock-opera" set in Thatcherite Britain. The album was a lot to take in on its own, but they also produced a fake compilation as a companion to the main release - "David's Town: 11 Original Hits From Byrdesdale Spa, UK!" - and create an intriguing set of accompanying videos.

Now they have released the latest in their series of Chinese Zodiac singles, which is something they have been doing on most Chinese New Year's since 2006. This year it's the Year of the Tiger, and it's another epic - a 15 minute song with lots of time changes and sections, and guest vocal appearances from Austra and the movie director Jim Jarmusch. The band's relationship with Jarmusch extends back the day the director curated at a New York ATP, when he memorably talked about their perfomance on WFMU and called them 'Smurfed Up' throughout.
Fucked Up have a bit of previous regarding experimental and epic single releases. The Looking for Gold 12" from 2004 was 16 minutes in duration, had 18 guitar tracks, a three minute drum solo and five minutes of whistling. 'Year of the Tiger' isn't as out there as that release, and musically it carries on from where the 'David...' album left off.
It's slower in tempo but it has the familiar swell of guitars that characterised last year's album. This time the first voice you hear isn't the familiar rasp of Damian, it's the spoken words of Jim Jarmusch. Their two voices then work together for the first few minutes, and as the pace increases Katie Stelmanis from Austra provides a female vocal for the closing section. It's pretty great, and once again it makes me think that the best adjective to describe Fucked Up's music is "ambitious".

You can stream all the Chinese Zodiac singles from the Matador/ Beggars promo site

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