The Best Albums of 2014, #16

band0116. Fucked Up, Glass Boys (Matador)

After three of the boldest and most innovative albums in punk rock history, what was left for Fucked Up to do? After all, you had the revolutionary Hidden World, which in retrospect would probably be my 2006 Album of the Year if I were to re-do my list today, the sprawling The Chemistry of Common Life (my 2006 Album of the Year) and 2012’s masterpiece rock opera David Comes to Life (again, it topped my list that year too). As you can tell, I like this band very, very much. They’re a national treasure, a punk rock band with the talent and clout to turn the genre on its ear time and again. With this band there are no rules, no silly genre restrictions. The punk rock is in their attitude and execution, in concert and on record. In the wake of so many records that embraced storytelling as much as songwriting breadth meshed with that punk mindset, the answer for snarly-voiced vocalist Damian Abraham was to cast his gaze inwards, examine his own approaching middle-age, his notoriety in not only the punk scene but the North American music scene in general. Consequently the end result is a surprisingly meditative album for even this band, one that opts to eschew any attempts at breaking new ground, staying the course musically, which has always been rock solid, and leaving plenty of room for Abraham to muse and pontificate. Although it’s not Album of the Year material like their past albums, it’s still a sterling effort, one that’s grown on me steadily as the year’s gone on. In fact Glass Boys is a sneaky little record, in that those arrangements, which don’t exactly blow your mind upon first listen, wriggle into your head weeks and months later. Guitarist Mike Haliechuk once again proves to be this band’s not-a-secret weapon, bringing great richness to tracks like “Touch Stone”, “Sun Glass”, the wonderful single “Paper House”, and the shimmering title track. Fucked Up simplified on album number four, and in the long run it turned out every bit as endearing as the rest.