With the signs of the Chinese zodiac as its springboard, Fucked Up’s zodiac series has been a chance for the band to indulge in experimentation. Each E.P.’s A-side weighs in at around 20 minutes, allowing the space to fuse the trademark punk sounds of their studio albums with more introspectively challenging notes. The series’ sixth offering, Year of the Hare, is no different, and stands out as a hypnotic meditation on consciousness and time.
Bravely opening with almost two minutes of ethereal-sounding reverb, the title track starts by whittling out all but the most dedicated of fans with a testament to the series’ established freakiness. This odd opening acts as a journey down the rabbit-hole into something of a sonic wonderland. Liltingly soothing acoustic guitars are unsettlingly spliced, vocals are warped and muffled, and sparse tinkling pianos are juxtaposed with Pink Eyes’ familiar pained howl. This eclectic mash-up drifts between polished studio sounds and muggy recordings, lulling the listener between presence and absence, consciousness and unconsciousness.
Drawing on the connotations of the eponymous hare, pace is pushed to its very limit in Fucked Up’s dreamscape. Guitarist Mike Haliechuk says of the record: “The theme of ‘Year of the Hare’ focuses on time, and becoming lost in it. The modern way of life, getting stuck in time-sucking gadgets and trends, stress and scheduling.” The track’s ever-changing tempo, fused with its foggy sound, renders it both a critique of the pace of modern life, and a dream-like escape from it.
After the immersion of ‘Year of the Hare’, the B-side ‘California Cold’ begins feeling a bit tacked on with its opening of Americana-invoking guitars. However, the track’s hazy California feel soon gives way to a muggier, more psychedelic vibe. Despite its confusing start, ‘California Cold’ quickly becomes the next dream in what is ultimately, a brilliantly restless sleep of a record.