The Fucking Champs VI

[Drag City; 2007]

Rating: 3.5/5

Styles: math rock, instrumental metal, prog
Others: Oxes, Ratatat, Sweep the Leg Johnny

At this point, San Francisco’s Fucking Champs are probably qualified to hold a symposium on humor vs. irony in music. Perhaps it’s the price you pay for giving your songs names like “Now is the Winter of Our Discotheque,” but the indie scene’s math/post-rock contingent have been indulging themselves in the same ways since... well, always. From Don Caballero (“I Don’t Give a Hoot about Faux-Ass Nonsense”) to Oxes (“I’m From Hell, Open a Windle”) to Minus the Bear (“Lemurs, Man, Lemurs”), the only thing that could reasonably cause one to hesitate at taking The Fucking Champs seriously is the fact that their band is named The Fucking Champs.

And yet I, too, was convinced there had to be some sort of wink-and-nudge by this band of three skinny white dudes, pictured on VI’s cover standing awkwardly in the middle of a desert, aviators in place. But as drummer Tim Soete puts it in an interview, “If the Fucking Champs were ‘kidding,’ then it would be a really elaborate and stupid joke.” Fortunately for The Champs, they’re pretty good at getting their music to do the talking for them, and VI proves to be an exhilarating, if admittedly indulgent, ride.

To the band’s credit, VI positively flies by. Four of the record’s 12 songs are interlude-length, although a cover of traditional hymn “Abide with Me” and the feverish “Insomnia” definitely contribute to the record’s sense of completeness. The rest, with the exception of the lite-prog synth number “Dolores Park,” are The Champs’ bread and butter, precisely-executed instrumental metal. The one-two punch of “Spring Break” and “Fozzy Goes to Africa” are, believe it or not, perfect for cruising South Beach en route to a hot party, and “Earthen Sculptor” and “The Loge” are perfectly serviceable runners-up. The Champs are guilty of burying a jokey cast-off at the end of seven minutes of silence following “Column of Heads,” but the preceding chug-a-lug is fun enough to forgive ’em. Justin Hawkins, we’re coming for you.

Most Read