By Chris CalarcoJanuary 17, 2013
No one is making music like Free Energy. The Philadelphia-by-way-of-Minnesota five piece just self released their second full length, Love Sign
, after parting ways with James Murphy’s DFA Records. Produced by John Angello of Dinosaur, Jr. and Sonic Youth fame, the album carries an impressively streamlined and massive sound that uniquely celebrates and affirms rock n’ roll in all its good time glory. This is oversized American music with a big, charming heart. Allow Free Energy to welcome back joyful head banging. Crank it up!Love Sign
is a downright addicting mix of meticulous power pop (think Cheap Trick/T Rex), 70s album oriented rock (think Foghat/Bad Company) and infectious 80s arena rock (think Poison/REO Speedwagon). Infected with a thousand degree, celebratory fever the music burns vibrantly with potent adrenaline shots like “Girls Want Rock”, “Time Rolls On”, and “Hangin’”. Fat power chords drive the momentum and colossal choruses stimulate and arouse. The precise song craft is enchanting because of its straightforward ease, lack of excess and complete absence of pretense. While the music celebrates rock n’ roll’s party starting capacity, Angello keeps the band perfectly in sync by avoiding guitar histrionics and placing each “woah-oh” and cowbell hit in its rightful arrangement for maximum joy.
It is entirely rare to see a post-modern, internet-era band embracing this sound without irony. Free Energy resolves any charge of insincerity by so fully embracing their heart-warming combination of hopeful lyrical clichés and pristine hooks. With such bravado the attitude becomes gleefully campy yet completely genuine, a kind of Rocky Horror Picture Show moment. Songs like “Dance All Night”, “True Love” and “Hold U Close” even skillfully manage to convey a wistful melancholy that broadens and deepens the emotional mood. It would be impossible to listen to Paul Sprangers hit high notes when he sings “Haley, I’m paralyzed” in “Dance All Night” without a smile. It’s early, but there won’t an album packed with this much fun the rest of the year.