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Love Sign

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Album Review

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.

Customer Reviews

Great since the beginning.,,

Free Energy has this happy sound in all their songs, and that is something missing in a lot of music these days. It rocks along to a happy tune…infectious! Buy it and love it!!!

Biography

Formed: Philadelphia, PA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Free Energy formed in the aftermath of the Minneapolis-based indie rock group Hockey Night's tumultuous breakup in 2007. The band coalesced in the two years following the split, when former Hockey Night members Scott Wells and Paul Sprangers relocated to Philadelphia, teamed up with Geoff Bucknum, Nicholas Shuminsky, and Evan Wells, and made a batch of freewheeling indie rock tunes in the vein of glam and arena rock acts like Thin Lizzy and T. Rex. While he was never an official member of the band,...
Full Bio
Love Sign, Free Energy
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