Kicking into chugging wah-wah guitar in a flurry of funk, Freak has the narrow shoulders of a lean, mean, searching machine of a tune.
The song features a kit with some fizzing cymbals and, before long, a howling lead guitar-line that doubles the lead vocal line, which then wanders into its own melodic path, and is all the more satisfying for doing so.
Neil’s vocal is an interesting mixture of warm, characterful and expressive directness: ‘In every way, on every day of the week / I’m a freak, freak, freak’. There’s been a decision to juxtapose the humanity of the performance with some unvarnished auto-tune, which seems to underline the meaning of alienation that the lyric explores. It’s a bold choice and is quite surprising when it kicks in.
The syncopated and main hook of the vocal often sits atop a tremolo guitar which has the effect of a warming pad. But then in and around this, guitars are built up in slabs of riffing harmony that play a game of Q&A with the vocal. In fact, guitar creates an entire backdrop of textures and colours for the production to hang off. The mix does a good job of keeping the train on the tracks, and at about the song’s halfway point, the guitars start to build and build the pressure to a point where their resolution is a thing of profound relief; the arrangement takes us full circle to the ‘freak, freak, freak’ refrain.
Freak sets out to be declamatory and certain, with human guitars and a questing vocal performance. There’s something of Simon Le Bon’s melodic choice about the whole affair; a New Romantic sense of panache amidst the grooving to help set the 21st century alight!