Label: Matador Release date: 26/01/10 Website: MySpace Despite being NME cover stars and regular Fox News Panellists, Fucked Up are one of the most, well, Fucked Up bands in hardcore, to the point that not making the obvious pun is almost impossible. Although many bands get compared to Black Flag, few deserve the comparison more than Fucked Up, who have progressed from basic but punishing hardcore to the kind of band who push themselves as far as they can and do whatever they want, dividing fans in exactly the same way as the Flag used to, with longer and longer songs, unexpected influences and instrumentation, and all the while performing absolutely brutal live shows. Couple Tracks is the band’s second singles collection and acts as a sequel to 2004’s Epics In Minutes. Whilst the latter featured a great selection of singles let down by the band’s near-unlistenable first demo recordings, this new compilation carries no dead weight and acts as a perfect introduction to an incredibly intimidating band as well as a convenient reproduction for existing fans of a bunch of songs that, until now, were only available on vinyl. The odd thing (or, one of the odd things) about Fucked Up is that, despite their tendency to pick the least media-friendly name possible and write ridiculously long songs from time to time, they’ve always known how to craft a good, catchy pop song and bury it underneath the distortion and gravelly yells. Even on the first of the two discs in the collection, the supposed ‘Hard Stuff’ which contains tracks from both their very first 7” in 2002 and their 2008 breakout album The Chemistry Of Common Life is perfectly accessible for hardcore newcomers, whilst still remaining fast, heavy and smart enough to please long time fans of the genre. The band still manages to sound raw despite the good production standard across the collection and, unlike Gallows and other recently emerging poppy hardcore bands, Fucked Up have managed to remain in that coveted Sonic Youth position: world famous, but still that little bit weird enough to give them the integrity to remain accepted by, and part of, the underground that they came from. Whilst the ‘Hard Stuff’ contains the more boundary-pushing side of Fucked Up’s music, the ‘Fun Stuff’ contains more straight up short and sharp hardcore material and is, a little ironically, probably the least likely to find them fans outside of the punk scene. Still, it contains some incredible and blisteringly fast tracks pulled together from various 7”s and demos and shows that although Fucked Up may mess around with other influences, they can do no-frills hardcore better than most other bands. The only problem with the record is in the track listing, and as such will only really apply to existing Fucked Up fans: despite making loads of their material that was only on 7” available in a much more digestible form, the way they’ve broken the 7”s up is a little frustrating: although both sides of the Generation 7” follows one after the other, for example, the B-Side of Triumph Of Life is four tracks before the A-Side, and each side of the Dangerous Fumes 7” is on a different disc. Of course, iTunes and the like makes it easy to re-order the album as you please, but it can’t compensate for the lack of a few missing tracks: although the band’s epic 18 minute Year Of The Pig has had a CD release along with the B-Side that appears on this compilation, other, shorter entries in their ‘Year Of’ series still only exist on vinyl, and would have been more than welcome on here. Still, what is on offer is more than worth the money: a chance to get your hands on some rare material, the chance to get to grips with a band that are difficult to pin down, and a demonstration of how to do hardcore right in every possible way. Whilst obsessive collectors may find little of interest here, it may just end up being a life changer for some. Rating: 8/10