With One Day, Fucked Up have delivered one of the most energizing and intricate albums of their entire career, a massive-sounding record that arrives in deceptively small confines. The Canadian hardcore legends have been known for their epic scale in the past, from towering concept albums to 12-hour performances—so it might be a surprise that Fucked Up’s sixth studio album is their shortest to date, written and recorded in the confines of one literal day (hence the title). Don’t mistake size for substance, though: The band’s sound has only gotten bigger, more hard-charging, with even denser thickets of melody. If that sounds like a study in contrasts, well, that’s Fucked Up for you—and you shouldn’t expect, or want, anything different.
“I wanted to see what I could record in literally one day.” That singular idea came to mind for guitarist Mike Haliechuk in the closing months of 2019, and it forms the ideological and structural backbone of One Day. Haliechuk got himself into a studio and proceeded to write and record the record’s ten tracks over three eight-hour sessions, reconnecting with the core of his and the band’s songwriting essence in the process. “After you’ve been in a band for this long, you lose track of what your sound actually is,” he explains. “Twenty-four hours can feel like a long time, but you can get a lot done then, too. It can feel like forever and one minute at the same time. If you work on something for one day, it can end up being really special.”
Indeed, even though work on One Day was completed remotely, Fucked Up as a whole adhered to the 24-hour rule during the creative process. “I got this email from Mike saying, ‘I made this record in one day, and I want you to record drums on it—but you can’t listen to it before you get into the studio,’” drummer Jonah Falco recalls. “I saw layers upon layers of guitar loops, and I dove in head-first and came out of it with a finished record.”
Initially, Fucked Up vocalist Damian Abraham was also set to complete his vocals in similar fashion—that is, before the lockdowns of 2020 took place and One Day was put on the back burner for two years, as the band completed the gargantuan Year of the Horse project that saw release last year. As it turns out, the isolation yielded creative dividends, as Abraham returned to contributing lyrics as well for the first time since 2014’s Glass Boys.
“It almost felt like it might be the last time I’d ever get to record vocals for anything,” Abraham says of the stakes he felt while putting his part to tape, before reflecting on how he approached the lyrical process: “What do I want to say to friends who aren’t here anymore? What do I want to say to myself? There was a lot of inner reflection going on, and after retreating into the fantasy world with Year of the Horse, this record is like we’re returning to real life.”
The result is a record that sounds full-bodied and immediate, with music that burns brutally and passionately in a way that only Fucked Up can evoke. The guitars sound like ziggurats reaching to the sky, reaching dizzying levels of melodic interplay while always maintaining a tuneful clarity—and the musical adventurousness that marked 2018’s epic, lush Dose Your Dreams is plenty present here, too. “I Think I Might Be Weird” doubles down on a glam-rock stomp midway through, while the title track piles guitar notes atop to resemble a Thin Lizzy–esque barnburner of a power-pop tune.
Over swarms of tuneful noise that evoke Sonic Youth circa Daydream Nation, Abraham lets loose on gentrification in “Lords of Kensington,” which was inspired by an “incredible” Toronto neighborhood that was regularly subject to life-ruining police surveillance and structural violence. “The police chief during that era—he just opened a cannabis store,” Abraham explains. “It’s so cynical and gross, what society has come to—but by being in a band, we’re culpable in changing the neighborhood, too, since the punk spaces and cool happenings that pop up are part of gentrification. Are you building a culture? Or are you ruining something that’s already been there?”
Then there’s the dusky burn of “Cicada,” a sonic cousin to Dose Your Dreams’ excellent standout “The One I Want Will Come for Me” that features Haliechuk taking lead-vocal duty. The song is dedicated to lost friends, and in his words, it’s about “what life is like after you lose people, and our responsibility to carry them forward into the future, using the things they taught us as a light. I like to imagine the sound of cicadas as a metaphor for our strange life in the subculture—we all just live these weird little hidden lives under the dirt, and then once in a generation, one of us gets to bust out of the dirt and intone their song so loud that it can be heard all over.”
“This record is about how we see time passing in our lives,” Falco continues while discussing how the emotional and technical approaches of One Day collided. “It represents the realization of what Fucked Up’s songwriting process has always been, which is the genesis of an idea from one person spread to other members. All of the development happened spontaneously with this album, which meant no time to second-guess. You had to be confident.” And One Day is an undeniable work of confidence from a band that continues to operate at the top of their game, making music that’s guaranteed to last a lifetime and beyond.