Long-time rockers Dead Freddie return with a bang to kick 2020 into shape and remind listeners that creative, intentional and immersive rock is still alive and thriving.
Blending the raw energy of punk and the expressive depth of tone more commonly found in eighties rock, with some superb songwriting that introduces a plethora of absolute anthems, this self-titled full-length project is an indie-rock dream to turn up loud.
The bold and straight to the point Cliche starts things off, that punk rock energy filling the room as fast-paced guitars and drums rain down. It’s an instrumental aura that stands tall throughout the album, often bringing in a dash of Mad Caddies – the bounce, the horns, the arbitrary optimism and carefree performance (When I’m Bound an early example and highlight). Alongside this though, that leading vocal, and indeed the songwriting style and these stories, helps give Dead Freddie an authentic and engaging sound all of their own.
As things go on, the band impress all the more so for their clear awareness and the eclectic, interesting arrangement of the collection. For example, with Mary Left we get a slightly more mellow yet creatively meandering set-up, and a vocal-line that tips its hat to Michael by Franz Ferdinand.
The sound is great, really refreshing and the kind of thing you’d happily trudge through the mud for to catch a live show on the other side of the festival field (hopefully those days return to us sometime).
Other highlights include Double Handle, a beautifully chaotic, call-and-response type anthem with some uniquely colourful solos. Conceptually this is one of many moments in which the band seem to tackle familiar concepts but in a new and revealing, clever way.
Going To The Dance also stands out for its acoustic softness and the intimate, minimalist nature of the set-up. Great vocal unity during the latter half – a little Kaiser Chiefs-like it seems.
Pocket Judy Crash Course then stands out for its minute-long instrumental and the fine fusion of Gypsy-jazz and rock. Then we get the power and melodic satisfaction of She Won’t Play House – not to throw in too many comparisons, but this has a slight No Doubt vibe to it. As suggested, the eclecticism and variety throughout the album lets it really hold tight to your attention.
The final quarter brings some mighty high-energy, knees-up moments that again beg for you to witness them in a live setting. Louie’s Place and Stage Brain are particular favourites. Then at the very end, the acoustic passion of Save Me From Myself sees things get notably personal, laying bare vulnerabilities performance-wise and lyrically.
A fantastic album, in short. Twelve original tracks that deliver hints of influence from across the board but seem authentically distinctive on the songwriting front – the band have their own writing style, and their musicianship is second to none. Brilliant.