Free Energy | Love Sign (Free People)

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Free-Energy-Love-Sign-125x125This is an album about fun, summer, good times with your friends, and girls.

On Free Energy’s sophomore album Love Sign, the Philly power-pop quintet really doesn’t stray far from the successful formula on its debut Stuck on Nothing. Some might think of that as a bad thing; however, they would be mostly wrong. Mostly.

Granted, Love Sign isn’t as flawless as the debut, but it never strives to be. This is an album about fun, summer, good times with your friends, and girls. That’s all it strives to be—and is that really such a bad thing? So many albums in the past few years (hell, in the past two decades) are so serious and filled with addictions, anger, problems with significant others, and family strife that it’s refreshing to listen to an album that is clean, fun, and doesn’t care that it’s not a serious album. As with Stuck on Nothing, Free Energy sounds like its music belongs in a party circa 1979. Let’s think the Cars and Cheap Trick-kind of late ’70s carefree big dumb party rock than getting drinks with the Outfield after the party winds down.

The track “Girls Want Rock” actually made me check that I didn’t turn on the Cars’ “My Best Friend’s Girl,” as the opening riffs are almost the same. Songs are filled with riffs, enormous hooks that would make Mike Tyson duck for cover, and simple lyrics mostly about girls and dancing. Songs are tight and have a polished sound, which, for the most part, works. However, it does present a very same-song-y sound to the album, which does bring it down some.

The slick nature of the production stands in contrast to the band’s debut, which felt looser and freer (the debut was produced by James Murphy, btw—yeah LCD Soundsystem James Murphy). So, do you ding a band for going with a winning formula and adding some gloss to it, and totally wearing their influences on their sleeves? Many times the answer is yes, but that is more due to the songs being steaming piles of crap.

In this case I don’t think one can say that. This is a feel-good album that makes you smile and reminisce about those carefree days. That counters any loss in indie street cred, doesn’t it? It should. Standout tracks: “Backscratcher,” “Electric Fever,” “Hold U Close,” and “Street Survivor” B- | Mike Koehler

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