Love Sign - Single
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After recording a debut album for DFA that ranged from exhilarating to a whole bunch of fun, Free Energy — Philly’s answer to the common rock & roll complaint “they just don’t write ‘em like that anymore” — switched labels and producers for their second effort, 2013’s Love Sign. Starting their own label wasn’t a bad idea at all, but going from James Murphy’s live-sounding, mistakes-and-all style to John Agnello's slick and precise corporate rock sound, drains much of the rambunctious joy out of the group’s retro-rock strut. Agnello got his start working with bands like the Hooters in the '80s and he and the band set out to create that kind of perfect airless sound, even going so far as to unapologetically say they were looking to capture the kind of drum sound one would hear on an Outfield record. Not exactly a recipe for thrilling, no-holds-barred rock & roll abandon, it’s true, but the record does succeed in almost exactly the fashion they planned. Despite the lack of sweat and spilled beer, the songs are still pretty darn catchy. Just about every track would sound good next to a Loverboy song on the radio, proudly showing off high-fructose power chords, endlessly sunny dispositions, clanging cowbells, and Paul Sprangers' devil-may-care vocals. They have the formula memorized and can repeat it back in multiple variations, from midtempo groovers like "Hangin" and handclapping rockers like "Girls Want Rock" to the power ballad-y "True Love." Fans of the first album’s low-rent, high-hook charm may feel that this record is a little too slick, a little measured, and overall sort of tame, and they’d have a point. But if you can get past that feeling and embrace the polished, shiny surfaces, and satin-jacketed AOR clichés, then Love Sign delivers a pleasing dose of nostalgic, good-time (almost) rock & roll.
Formed: Philadelphia, PA
Years Active: '00s, '10s
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