We’re gunna start this review with a simple statement: FIDLAR are a special band and shouldn’t be pigeonholed as a group who just sing about getting high or drunk on cheap beer when that’s not what those songs are really about at all. To do so is a big fucking mistake.
Almost Free sees the LA group lay their emotions bare on the table, of course, tales of getting high and drunk are as prevalent as you’d expect from a band built on the backs of a city punk scene – but as frontman Zac Carper candidly puts it on the bittersweet final track ‘Good Times Are Over’ as damaging as vices may be, they’re cheaper than therapy.
The record starts with all the ferocious energy that has become synonymous with FIDLAR over the years. Lead track ‘Get Off My Rock’ sees Carper delivering a Zack de la Rocha style performance which perfectly prepares you for the chaotic ride you’re about to embark on over the course of the next 40 minutes or so.
‘Can’t See Me’ is probably the most radio-friendly track of their career so far which isn’t a negative. The track is incessantly catchy, with swooning vocals and a brilliant hook to boot. However, on it, the band sound a lot less rough around the edges than on their previous work, which is no coincidence as this record sees the rockers collaborate with producer Ricky Reed. The man who was nominated for 2017 Producer of The Year at the Grammy’s is best known for working with the likes of the smooth Leon Bridges and polished Twenty One Pilots.
But fear not, the old FIDLAR spirit is still alive and well on their third record.
The group show their political, angsty streak later on in the record on song ‘Thought. Mouth.’ and ‘Too Real’ with Carper crooning on the latter ‘Well of course the government is gonna fuckin’ lie, Bunch of white people callin’ white people white’ as well as taking out his frustrations at technology: ‘Why is the answer to life on the fuckin’ phone? And is the answer to my happiness in the cloud?’. Meanwhile ‘Thought. Mouth.’ opens with this verse: ‘I’m going to move to Canada, ‘cos Fuck America, and California’s just a bunch of trustees, living on a beach.’ – which is kinda all you need to know on that one.
The tale of the record is one of a complicated love story, as well as a love-hate duet with Los Angeles that shouts that it’s not the perfect picturesque setting that Hollywood would have us believe. In fact, the record sits within the same fucked up dystopian world of LA that is at the forefront in Showtime’s long-running hit show Californication starring David Duchovny as Hank Moody, a troubled New Yorkian alcoholic writer living in LA, a City which repulses every fibre in his body. There is no better example of this, than on the giant instrumental title track ‘Almost Free’ which transports you right to the black heart of Venice Beach.
The breathtaking ‘Called You Twice’ tells the story of looking back at a relationship through rose-tinted glasses and features a beautiful collaboration with K-Flay, which sees the 33-year-old lend her vocals to form a monster harmony as well and tells a heartbreaking story.
Simply put, Almost Free is their most complete record yet and is an honest raucous journey into the peaking lifestyle that the band leads and the heavy troughs that they can find themselves in. It’s ultimately about the struggles of being real in a City where being fake is celebrated. Not here though, we’d much rather celebrate FIDLAR.