At some point, the Black Lips went from peeing in each other’s mouths to giving an interview from a cruise ship about their desire for a genuine, Mark Ronson-produced hit. Yeah, this evolution didn’t happen overnight, but the best explanation for their shift is that after a while, entertaining people with your urine loses its magic.
And, it is unclear if FIDLAR have peed on anyone in a performance yet, but they might as well have, as the reputation that precedes their self-titled debut is as much for their debauchery as it is for their chops. With Black Lips looking beyond fistfights with fans and full-frontal nudity, FIDLAR may prove suitable heirs to the shock-rock throne.
Their name stands for Fuck It Dog Life’s A Risk, and a trip to their Facebook page puts an emphasis on “Fuck It,” with their influences displayed as a list of shitty beer and booze, their interests solely as “El Pollo Loco,” and their bio a VHS box description of Christian Slater’s skater flick Gleaming The Cube. Without catching one of FIDLAR’s notoriously rowdy shows, first introductions are likely to drift closer to “cute” than they are to “dangerous,” with the band coming off as 22-year-old boys reveling in their immaturity, as concerned with entertaining themselves as they are others.
FIDLAR’s saving grace is that they can back their image up. Not that being an authentic drug-snorting, 40-drinking petty thief with little ambition besides playing rock shows and skating with the bros should be a point of pride, but as the adage says, write what you know. Their self-titled collection may be narrow in its lyrical scope, but it doesn’t lack in authenticity, and anyone with an inclination to the loud, hooky and irreverent R-rated tunes will find much to like. For the others, the swirly, fuzzed-out opener “Cheap Beer,” declares in its chanted chorus “I drink cheap beer, so what? Fuck you.” And, if you miss it the first time, it’s cool, they repeat it a bunch.
The album is filled with two-minute romps that systematically tout both their influences and their contemporaries, including the Misfits from the flexed and strutting “Stoked and Broke,” Wavves with the nasal harmonies and clenched fist of “Wait for the Man,” The Murder City Devils with the almost-sexy groove of “Cocaine,” and the Pixies’ throaty wails on the bluesy untitled bonus track that finishes the album with a rare moment of introspection; singer Zac Carper claiming “it kind of sucks being 22.” FIDLAR owes as much to San Francisco garage rock as it does to SoCal surf punk, and though the range hardly creates the sense of a well-balanced dish, the depth of the flavor is enough to satisfy.
FIDLAR is a young band, making loud music about “feeling like a cokehead” and “eating Del Taco, sleeping in and playing video games,” straddling the line that lands one playing Gathering of the Juggalos. Teenagers will eat it up, and the rest can appreciate from a distance, knowing eventually micro-brews seem worth the extra cash, waiting for FIDLAR to channel their pop sensibility and good taste into more than “a fun band to see when you’re drunk.“ FIDLAR have done their homework on punk, and know this is just how it starts, that eventually they will grow up. It’s probably the only homework they’ve ever done.