Free Energy – Stuck On Nothing

Rating: ★★★ · ·

Since they released their first 7″, the name of Free Energy has hit all across the blogosphere, garnering hype as a straight ahead rock ensemble a la Thin Lizzy or Cheap Trick.  Backed by the production talent of LCD Soundsystem‘s James Murphy, no one had any idea how far this band could really go. Finally, Stuck on Nothing is upon us, and it lives up to all the accolades for the most part.

That first riff off “Free Energy” hits you hard, with a little rock emphasis thrown in by the excessive cowbell. It’s easily the most hook-laden on the record, and it’s one you could easily find lying on mainstream radio channels alongside the likes of Weezer.  Sure, that seems frightening nowadays, but you know you liked the blue album too!  I mean, its filled with the exact same sort of mediocre guitar solos in the middle.

They don’t stop bringing you their cookie-cutter rock moments for the first several tunes on Stuck on Nothing.  Despite the originality in the opening minutes, you’ll find that songs like “Dream City” just have that sort of hook that you imagine your parents got stoned to during college, which probably means you did the same in high school at some point. But, you’ll find that the band is just more than a nostalgic throwback once you get to “All I Know.”  Yes, it does have a very similar riff aesthetic, but slowing down the pace of this track reveals that Free Energy can grab your attention without being overtly in your face all the time.

From here on out, the record begins to really hit its groove.  The band discarded the balls out fury they opened the album with, opting instead to push their sound just a little bit further by working on those guitar solos, and in fact, in doing so, they’ve made the rhythm guitar moments sound a great deal more effective.  It’s this sort of song construction that creates ultimately more enjoyable moments than those fueled by cock-rock.  Sure, you can hear all sorts of Thin Lizzy over “Young Hearts,” but Free Energy somehow manage to make it all their own (most likely due to a singer that is not Phil Lynott). “Hope Child” is another step into the band developing their own sound entirely.  They take the classic guitar stomping moments that have been present throughout, but they throw a bit of California punk vocals atop the whole mix.  It’s an effective move, one that makes the band sound a infinitely more relevant in today’s musical climate.

As you can see, the one thing that the record really lacks is excessive creativity.  That being said, no one is going to deny that you’re going to have a whole keg worth of fun jamming to this record all Spring long.  Occasionally it’s okay to let go of all pretense and just let your hair blow in the wind, and Free Energy is here to be that band for you.  Stuck On Nothing brings you exuberance for days, and as the sun comes out in March, could you ask for more?

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/free-energy-free-energy.mp3]

Download: Free Energy – Free Energy [MP3]

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