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Before breaking into the meat and potatoes of FIDLAR's sophomore effort, Too, it is probably important to issue this disclaimer: this review is being written by a person with a FIDLAR tattoo. If this does not properly convey my love for the group's self-titled debut from 2013, then perhaps nothing can. It is 14 tracks of adrenaline pumping, amphetamine-fueled skate punk that walks a thin line between anarchic chaos and misanthropic self-destruction. The record also bashed and banged with a surprising amount of musical prowess. From the opening chug of 'Cheap Beer' to the final howls of pain on 'Cocaine', that record was a front-to-back stellar bit of music. But now, a little more than two years on, it would appear that the men who popularized the mantra of "fuck it dog, life's a risk" that I so strongly identified with have decided to take as few risks as possible. Instead, they have concocted a record that somehow manages to sound more like a parody of the band they were two years ago than a group that has undergone any meaningful evolution.

When '40oz. On Repeat', the lead single and first track off of Too, was released, the persistent switches between the band's more typical snarling guitars and oddball segments featuring toy pianos and warbly acoustic guitars made for an irritating listen. Further burdening the track was the remarkably uninventive and oftentimes irritating lyricism from vocalist Zac Carper. "I don't care at all, I'll drink some alcohol, it'll make me who I really want to be," he snarls, "but I'm that kind of special person that drinks too much 'cause nobody understands me." It is as if some high schoolers who found the drinking and drug-taking of the self-titled record romantic and tried to make their own version. In the end, it just comes off as feigned.

Unfortunately, the uncreative nature of the first song does not subside quickly. 'Why Generation' sounds like the kind of a song that was conceived after another band created a popular anthem and, in turn, inspired a million other bands to try and copy it. 'Leave Me Alone', while bringing one of the album's better instrumentals to the table, finds Carper staying close at home to his lyrical template that struggles to sound authentic with the band's new, highly-finished studio sound.

The album's fifth song, 'Sober,' is a strong contender for the worst song of 2015. The first 43 seconds are a nearly unbearable mess of middle school-type whininess. Carper monologues a spoken attack directed toward an unidentified individual who obviously must have fucked up enough to send the frontman all the way back to an adolescent-level temper tantrum. "But what about me? I'm a fucking princess, too, so treat me like one and don't tell me what to do!" will likely go down as one of the worst lyrics of the year. Even when the song finally decides to finally press onward into a catchy stretch of fuzzed out guitars, the damage has been done. It'll be a miracle if anyone even makes it to that section of the track.

But for as offensive as 'Sober' is on the ears, some solace can be found in knowing that it is easily the most egregious offender of this record. The most pervasive problem, however, is the ridiculous amount of sheen that has been added to FIDLAR's sound. Recorded over a two-week period in Nashville with the help of Jay Joyce, a producer known primarily for his work in country music and with Cage The Elephant, nearly every song is coated in such a thick coat of gloss that much of what the band so appealing to start seems obscured. A lot of needless instrumentation pops up throughout the record, most of the songs finish with obviously manufactured moments that are intended to sound like off the cuff snippets from the recording process and many of the band's new songs struggle to find a voice.

There are bright spots on the record. However, out of Too's 12 tracks, only about four of them really stand out and two of those are previously issued FIDLAR tracks that have received the studio treatment. The band did this before with songs such as 'Wake Bake Skate' and 'Max Can't Surf,' but made only subtle changes from the songs' inceptions to the ultimate studio release. Both 'Punks' (originally released as 'The Punks Are Finally Takin' Acid') and 'West Coast' follow a similar path. Although the latter has received a fair amount of studio tinkering in what is presumably an effort to score an alt radio hit, a possibility that seems very likely, both songs still manage to capture the essence of what made FIDLAR so intoxicating initially: their ability to translate their mantra to song without it seeming inauthentic. The only brand new tracks that even come close to continuing that track are the excellent 'Drone,' which seems to tip a count to the hallowed LA punkers from X, and 'Bad Medicine,' which manages to rock hard enough that the irritating studio effects can almost be forgiven.

Evolution and musical development is always a difficult proposition, but not one to be shied away from. But when your record sounds more like the product of other people trying to impersonate you, it may be safe to say that the attempt at progress has backfired. Too is a significant disappointment in a number of different ways. The exceptional quality of FIDLAR's self-titled debut was always going to be hard to follow-up, but hackneyed songwriting, a litany of uninventive instrumentals and misguided foray into excessive studio manipulation will leave many listeners with an exceptionally sour taste in their mouth. For future endeavors, hopefully FIDLAR will release that live recordings that steer clear of overdubs and needless shifts between instruments and styles, seemingly done simply in an effort to seem quirky, will always be a better option. FIDLAR does perform an exceptional live show and could potentially translate many of these songs into excellent bangers during concerts. But for now, Too is an irritating and frustrating disappointment.

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