‘What could you do in just one day?’ That is the question posed on the title-track of this extraordinary album, as well as the challenge set by Fucked Up guitarist Mike Haliechuk to his colleagues in the Toronto punk crew. Drummer Jonah Falco recalls receiving an email from Mike saying, ‘I made this record in one day, and I want you to record drums on it—but you can’t listen to it before you get into the studio.' And so it was passed round the band, with each member getting 24 hours – more or less - to make their mark.
It sounds like a zany lockdown idea but One Day was actually conceived and begun in the heady, precedented days of 2019 (although the pandemic did interrupt vocalist Damian Abraham’s contribution, which was stuttered over several sessions). This all makes it even more gloriously Fucked Up in the best possible way. The Canadians have never been afraid of trying something different, delving into everything from their early hardcore 7-inches through a meta rock opera set in Thatcher’s Britain (2011’s brilliant David Comes To Life) to a series of startlingly diverse EPs themed loosely around the Chinese Zodiac, most recently 2021’s Year Of The Horse.
Previous experiments have allowed the band to be ever more expansive but the restrictive nature of this one has perhaps inevitably reined them in a touch. The result is their shortest ‘proper’ album to date, with the ten tracks weighing in at a combined 40 minutes or so. It’s relatively compact in both its sum and its constituent parts, but that isn’t to say it’s anything like one-dimensional.
So Found kicks things off in a flurry of punk drumming and an insistent groove, before crashing into an absolutely huge singalong hook. It might be a little raw and ragged around the edges but there’s no clue in the songwriting that this was put together in haste. Much of One Day is intensely personal with Abraham having contributed to the lyrics again for the first time since 2014’s Glass Boys, but Found takes a look at Canada’s colonial past. As with the music, coruscating lines like ‘There I stood on the shore/ Of a story we don't tell anymore/ All the names were erased/ Buried under a land that my people stole’ sound thoughtful and considered rather than thrown together in hours.
I Think I Might Be Weird follows with a jerky glam-rock riff and day-glo keyboards offset by Abraham’s glass-gargling rasp and bilge-dipped nautical metaphor. Huge New Her brings a spikier alt-rock feel while Broken Little Boys comments on the all too relevant cycle of toxic masculinity in a welter of strident guitar lines. Nothing’s Immortal brings the power-pop like Cheap Trick with a smoker’s cough and Cicada sees Haliechuk take the lead vocal reins for the album’s most laid-back indie-rock moment.
One Day is certainly not Fucked Up’s most musically expansive, experimental or downright heaviest outing but it distils much of what makes them great into a sticky great wrecking ball of melody, muscle and understated invention. And given the context of its creation, it’s an incredibly impressive feat.