To understand Canadian punks Fist City, you first have to know exactly who you're dealing with. This is a band whose guitarist, Evan Van Reekum, seemingly just fell out of a fourth storey window for the hell of it. "I didn't really care about my life or myself at that point, but ... we were at a party, and you know how that shit goes." How that shit ended up was that he was out of action for four weeks and has been in rehab quite a lot since. Their lead singer, Kier Fist has also undergone gender re-assignment since the release of their debut album three years ago.
Hunting You was a scuzzy and unrefined document of where the band were at that time; aesthetically speaking, it's the exact opposite of how It's 1983, Grow Up! has turned out, finally being released in the UK a year after its emergence across the Atlantic. If you've been following the band, you've probably heard it by now, but if Fist City are new to you, it's not just the sheer rush of energy I get from this album talking when I tell you that it's an absolute thrill to listen to.
Going by the track names ('Boring Kids', 'Endless Bummer', 'Burn Burn Burn Burn' and the impressively direct-sounding 'Fuck', to name a few), some conclusions about the record could be drawn quite quickly. 12 songs in just a bit less than 27 minutes? Sure. "It's probably a straight-up punk rock riot", you think. However, the fact that it fizzes with punky energy and features the quartet going hell-for-leather over the course of (most of) the album is only the tip of the iceberg. There's a lot more to this than you would expect. Surf pop and new-wave influences abound; they're particularly evident in the high-pitched keyboard backing of 'Boring Kids', and the summery energy of 'The Creeps', but everything is nonetheless driven by the punk rock aesthetic.
The verse-chorus formula is adhered to almost without exception; the lo-fi sound means that the drums are sometimes completely lost in the mix (though Ryan Grieve does get his moment in the sun on 'Caveman's Lunch); everything is exactly as it should be.
As chaotic as they may sometimes sound, Fist City's fast-paced songs are delivered with the kind of confidence that comes as quite a surprise when you learn that they've undergone line-up changes since last we heard from them. Coupled with Van Reekum's injuries and general misadventures, it's a wonder the album was finished at all. Just as well they had no-one to wait on for production duties; the band handled that whole side of things themselves, and the album has a definite kick to it at certain moments; there's a delightfully full sound to the last minute or so of album highlight 'Wet Freaks', whose sonic density indicates at there being a future for Fist City as a shoegaze band if they ever decide to pack in the punk rock that's gotten them to where they are.
There's no chance in hell of that happening, though; It's 1983, Grow Up finds them ploughing ahead, tearing shit up and having a debaucherous time of things while doing so. On the surface, it's business as usual, but if you dig a little deeper, you'll find it's much more than that.