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FIDLAR - Almost Free (Album Review)

Monday, 11 February 2019 Written by Laura Johnson

Photo: David Black

‘Almost Free’, FIDLAR’s third album, finds the band returning to the modest mechanics of their 2013 self-titled bow. The majority of its tracks stem from home-recorded demos, with slick production by Ricky Reed and mixing handled largely by Manny Marroquin providing a counterpoint.

The result is a record that feels disjointed, for a couple of reasons. The LP bounces between genres song to song—taking in punk, grunge, ‘70s rock, ‘90s rock, indie—and the unbridled energy for which the band are known always feels a little tamped down. Their rough edges have also been smoothed out, and in the process the delivery has dulled. If their eclectic second album, ‘Too’, was divisive, be prepared for a wall of death-type separation over this.

That being said, ‘Almost Free’ is far more cohesive in a lyrical sense, with Zac Carper delivering songs that delve into familiar topics: addiction, politics and relationships—the usual culprits that make for a bad time and a good song.

Opener Get Off My Rock—which instantly recalls Beastie Boys—digs into the issue of gentrification in Los Angeles and Hawaii, eventually extending beyond being kicked out of your neighbourhood and into the worldwide refugee crisis.

Too Real also keeps the album’s political fuse lit, while contextualising it with personal and societal flecks, all delivered with that razor sharp wit. “And let’s pretend that EDM didn’t happen at all,” Carper screams. “And that politics are why you drink alcohol.” Later, he sneers: “You’ve gone so far to the left, you ended up on the right.”

Alcohol shifts the focus back inward and was written following Carper breaking his sobriety, while the nature of addiction is written all over the record—spin By Myself and Kick. His continued investigation of the subject makes for some of its more impressive moments. Called You Twice, featuring singer and rapper K. Flay, is another high point, largely because it contains the album’s best, and most unforgettable, line: “I can tell the heart breaks in degrees.”

In a nutshell, ‘Almost Free’ is all over the shop. It’s a playlist for a party that caters for the people you like and those you tolerate for the sake of the others. The band have said they let inspiration dictate the direction of the music and as a result things ended up the only way they could—with a record taking a different step with each track, some forward and some narrowly avoiding a big pile of shit. But, as the band’s name tells us: Fuck it, dog. Life’s a risk.

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