Often it's easy to be able to identify what a band is in for from the music alone. Synthetic predictable songwriting with unconvincing performances is meant to just make labels lots of money, grandly orchestrated musical works taking you on a real journey has been crafted with the intent of making something that challenges the face of music as we know it, and then sometimes, bands just write really lovely songs because it's a fun thing to do and the songs they come out are the types that everyone can dance and relate to. With Love Sign, the second full length from Hockey Night offshoots Free Energy, we're definitely dealing with an album with music in the third category. And how wonderful an experience it is.
It's been some time since I found an album that really approaches the "less is more" thesis of songwriting with open arms, but the band nail it here, as they manage to compact all sorts of emotion and personality into a range of three-minute flings of songs that all thrive ultimately on unrelenting simplicity. And it works. More than that it will leave you asking yourself why it works. In the least offensive way possible, Scott Wells and Sheridan Fox's guitar work is hardly anything worth writing home about, but it's the overall summoning of kind-heated warmth that the band release across the likes of Dance All Night and Hold You Close that makes it the stuff of power pop euphoria.
That's not to say they can't be musically stunning at all. The spidery pitter-patter guitar of Street Survivor effortlessly carries the vibes of soft rock bliss, but the most remarkable parts of the album is the band's fun-loving and confident taking on of influences from glam rock acts of decades ago. On the likes of Girls Want Rock, Backscratcher and grand closer Time Rolls On, Nicholas Shuminsky busts out the cowbell and the band become Thin Lizzy-lite for a little while. This is also the form taken on on album opener and lead single Electric Fever, which if you have ears, you will recognise it's main riffs as a shameless rip-off of Bachman-Turner Overdrive's You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet. Not that that stops from having fun in any way.
Because if you didn't feel like you were having fun, or didn't feel immersed within good times while listening to this album, something must have gone very wrong indeed. I suppose the real beauty of Free Energy and their approach to making songs on Love Sign is in the fact that they really are nothing more than a bunch of guys that are making music for the sake of good times and having fun simply so that those who listen can do the same. And when you truly are sunk within a sense of having good times and not needing to care about a thing in the world, there is no real need for technical mastery or ambitious journeys in your music. That's not to say that you can't have music like that to feel good, but music like this serves as an adequate necessity, like the blueprint to good time music, if you will. There's a time and a place for simple music made just so those can listen will feel happy. And Free Energy have hit that time and place spot on.
Free Energy's Love Sign is out now via Self Release.