Album Review: The Dirty Nil — ‘Fuck Art’

Posted: by The Editor

They say there’s a light at the end of every tunnel. 2020, for most of us, was a dark and ever-narrowing tunnel, an unending series of defeats. 2021 isn’t poised to be much brighter. But thankfully, after such a miserable year, we can start 2021 with one positive: Fuck Art.

The Canadian punk trio’s third record begins with a bang. “Doom Boy” has the distinction of being one of the best songs of both 2020 and 2021. It immediately clues the listener in to what to expect from Fuck Art: soaring pop-punk packed with classic rock-sized riffs. It’s nowhere near as gimmicky as it sounds, but it’s every bit as much fun. Right before a swaggering breakdown, Luke Bentham invites a girl to “listen to Slayer in the back of my Dodge Caravan” (during the song’s bridge, he reveals “it’s my mom’s Dodge Caravan”). It embodies to a tee The Dirty Nil’s ethos and their appeal. It’s corny as hell, of course, but Bentham knows it; his smirk is practically audible. 

This isn’t the smug self-awareness of a Father John Misty (who, by the way, kicks ass), or the overwrought post-irony of The 1975 (who kick even more ass). There’s no grand message here; they aren’t satirizing their contemporaries, their idols, or even themselves. They’re just having fun not taking the whole thing too seriously. 

It’s exemplified in the title. The Dirty Nil isn’t setting out to make a timeless LP; they just want to write some catchy punk songs. That carefree attitude is what helps make Fuck Art so good. It makes a song like the “Ride or Die,” which sounds like if The Menzingers had covered Motorhead instead of The Clash, a headbanger rather than a headscratcher. It also helps sell lyrics like, “Maybe I’ll try origami or Jiu-Jitsu / and walk around Ikea with you,” lines that would sound completely absurd in any other context. They help balance out maybe-too-real lines like, “I’ve got a lot of things to drink about / dream about, and run away from”; that’s the line that closes the record, from the infectious “One More and the Bill.” It recurs repeatedly throughout the song, but by the time Bentham sings it the last time, emphasizing every word of that last clause, it sounds more like a rallying cry than a sigh of defeat.

Disappointing / Average/ Good / Great /Phenomenal

Zac Djamoos | @gr8whitebison

The Alternative is ad-free and 100% supported by our readers. If you’d like to help us produce more content and promote more great new music, please consider donating to our Patreon page, which also allows you to receive sweet perks like free albums and The Alternative merch.