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Friday, September 29, 2023


Freelance Whales fail to please fans

Freelance Whales lacks originality in its new album, Weathervanes, by relying too heavily on its musical influences. | Courtesy of Mom and Pop Records

The division between pop and rock has been an interesting subject within the realm of modern music ever since the feud between The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.

For the industry of independent music labels, this divide has grown continually over the last decade. Heavy synth-based groups such as Hellogoodbye and Owl City have risen out of the 2000s and formed a new demographic for indie listeners: teeny boppers and fans of The OC. This decadence is by no means welcomed by the indie scene established long before 2005, when this new super pop style began to manifest itself.

But these bands do bring some well-produced music to the table, featuring tracks that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Freelance Whales are the next contender for this genre, releasing their latest album, Weathervanes, March 16 to fans who pre-ordered it. Freelance Whales’ style related to the bands mentioned prior, relying on synth and banjo to maintain a unique sound.

Unfortunately, listeners have experienced this before with powerhouse indie bands such as Death Cab and Sufjan Stevens. Freelance Whales should be given an award for “going green” after all the recycling that takes place in this album. They took the original ideas created by the indie giants of the last 10 years and watered them down for the scene kids, making an easily chewable LP for beginner listeners.

Surprisingly, the album has one of the best intro tracks ever heard. However, listeners might soon feel disappointed after hearing Judah Dadone’s all-too-familiar singing style in the second track, “Hannah.”

Dadone takes this opportunity to show just how cheesy love lyrics can be, with references to Now & Later candy in the same stanza as champagne. The lyrics feel forced, trying to sound clever but ending up with a confused fan base left wondering what adulthood might be like from Freelance Whales’ vague accounts of romance.

The album moves on from there. Cute but redundant tracks proceed, interrupted by interludes that allow listeners to take a breath and question why the group has vocals in the first place.

From a compositional standpoint, the group does a lot of things right, showing balanced and well-edited musicianship on an instrumental level. But that sound is slightly tarnished when vocals enter the mix, releasing the feeling that this band has been overproduced and over-managed.

And that’s the polar opposite of what independent music is supposed to be about.

There are a handful of enjoyable songs on the album, but that joy cannot compare to most other indie bands. Therefore, Weathervanes hardly motivates continual listening.

Tracks such as “Kilojoules” and “Broken Horse” are solid, but as mentioned earlier, are all too influenced by past greats.

Freelance Whales has a way to go if they want to become the band they aspire to be.

Because of the strong support of this style by the teen population, however, Freelance Whales just might make it big after all.

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