Thursday, February 11, 2010
Artist: Free Energy
Album: Stuck on Nothing
Record Label: DFA Records/Astralwerks
Release Date: 3/9/2010
Nostalgic guitar rock has always gotten the better of me—it’s one of only a handful of musical traits that allure me time and time again without fail. When done correctly, confident and anthemic riffs remain rock’s most powerful and endearing element. Just listen to songs like The Hold Steady’s “Banging Camp,” The Black Keys’ “10 A.M. Automatic” and The Thermals “Now We Can See.” Go ahead and try to resist these powerful licks. While these three artists are far from similar, the one commonality that ties them together is their mastery of the hook.
Upon hearing, Free Energy’s opening track “Free Energy,” off their upcoming debut album Stuck on Nothing, their power instantly struck me in a similar fashion to the bands mentioned above. Frontman Paul Spranger ambitiously declares “We’re gonna start a new life, and see how it goes,” as this freewheeling, cowbell-laden track establishes an excitingly intense and rousing tone for the remainder of the album. To simply put it—these Philadelphia-based rockers are infectious in every sense of the word. Free Energy broadcasts melodic, hook-laden rock tunes with a heavy dose of bombastic glam and classic rock in a seemingly effortless manner.
Those who notice Free Energy’s affiliation with LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy will not be surprised by the innate catchiness of Stuck on Nothing. What emerges unexpectedly, however, is the form of this component—a sprawling classic glam rock revival. “Bad Stuff” summons Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys are Back in Town” before transitioning into a Hold Steady impersonation with an epic-bar rock instrumental breakdown. “Bang Pop” is tinged with T. Rex’s rousing guitar fills, combined with a bombastic strut reminiscent of late 90’s mainstream punk-pop song, ringing full of bloated power chords and simplistic lyrics.
The album’s unequivocal highlight shines in the form of “Dream City,” a sing-along summer groove that stands as refreshing as it is natural. Between its harmonic ‘na-na-na’s’ and complimenting saxophone conclusion, Free Energy has created something special on this cut. Despite the fact “Dream City” approaches perfection, however, it never distinctly outshines the rest of Stuck on Nothing for the sole reason that the remainder of the album impressively approaches that same level.
The one downside to Free Energy? Knowing that I only have a limited time with their music before they blow up. I’ll just have to make the most of Free Energy while I still can.