Musical gods of summer, you have heard our pleas! We have need of sunshine melodies and cool hooks to accompany our unrealistic seasonal aspirations and you have answered our prayers with new albums from some reliable sources. Get the bottle opener and air pump ready!
American-French duo Freedom Fry are no one thing. Their range runs the gamut of neo-cabaret to low-key dance numbers, with a whole lot in between. They’ve mostly put out original singles and EPs along with some inspired covers since 2011. But now comes their first long player, Classic, and it’s aptly named. Gone are the syncopated beats of last year’s Strange Attraction in favour of a more stripped down, acoustic sound e.g. banjos, dreadnought 6 strings, with just a touch of spaghetti western a la Ennio Morricone. You can really hear the western lilt on tracks like “For You,” “Cold Blooded Heart” and especially on the sunny “Past Lives” with it’s haunting whistling. Freedom Fry channel a kind of happy-go-lucky, feel good disposition on a lot of their tunes, even when the subject matter is dark. Kinda like riding a bike by the ocean on a sunny day. Feel that breeze on tracks like “Awake” and “Ticking.” This is a predictably solid debut album from a band that’s been single-teasing us for years!
For YouPast Lives
Just six months after the release of his stunning debut, T-T-T-Technicolour Melodies, Paul Ryan aka Super 8 is back with another solid 1960s-infused musical rumination on life, love and politics with his new record, Turn Around Or …There is a late 1960s Kinks and Stones-like quality to the recordings here, both in terms of social commentary and the easygoing acoustic-but-still-rocky vibe to the whole album. “Hey Mr. Policeman” and “Be Careful What You Say” update 1960s social criticism for the new millennium while “Smile” and “Turn Around Or” exude that 1960s endless summer. I love the harmonica blasts on “You Say You’re Leaving” and the rockier “Calling Out.” Ryan changes up the pacing with “Never Had a Love,” which reminds me of McCartney’s forays into older musical forms. But the highlights here for me are the subtle, building hooks on the Jayhawks-reminiscent “Mary Jane” and the obvious single, “Your Love is my Blanket.” Nice cover of fellow Scots BMX Bandits great tune, “Serious Drugs.” Turn Around Or …is a sixties-vibing, easygoing summer party album, and it has arrived just in time.