Review Summary: Almost Free is almost a disaster.
Fidlar has been my, and many others’, go to guilty pleasure band for years. Their self-titled debut, while packed with enjoyable songs, was downright exhausting to listen to even when under the influence. The follow-up, Too, was just a handful of great songs trying to hold up a poor overall album. With a four-year gap between that and Almost Free, it was anybody’s guess what this new chapter of the band would bring.
But holy shit, Fidlar has not changed at all.
Almost Free is everything someone would come to expect from a Fidlar album: it’s weird without being creative or unique, it’s grungy without being memorable, and it’s loud without being enjoyable. No song demonstrates this better than the near-hopeless opener “Get Off My Rock,” which boasts abysmal lyrics and vocal melodies crashing over awful production. This isn’t the only embarrassingly bad track present, as songs like “Nuke” and “Kick” bring out some of the worst of Fidlar. These three tracks are easily among the worst music the band has ever let the public hear.
Not every track is hopeless, but this only serves to build my frustration with the end result. Lead single “Can’t You See” is an absolute banger from the moment it starts to the moment it ends. It’s catchy and sassy and all around amazing to listen to. While it is the only song on the entire record that I would describe as outstanding regardless of whether or not the listener is a Fidlar fan, tracks “By Myself and “Alcohol” will do a solid job of reminding long-time listeners why they fell in love with the band in the first place. While “By Myself” has too many weird interludes and “Alcohol” has an embarrassing chorus, they serve their purpose are among the higher end of Almost Free.
The worst thing that Fidlar could have done is sell out. They could have abandoned their sound entirely and resorted to appealing to the mainstream. Now I love Elvis; he has shown himself to be a great singer and songwriter both on this album and in previous ones, but two of his tracks fall completely flat that it’s almost funny. “Scam Likely” is devoid of any personality at all, and “Flake,” while more enjoyable than the previous song mentioned, is the musical equivalent of riding an escalator. Elvis isn’t the only band member taking the uniqueness out of the sound, as Zac’s song “Called You Twice” sounds like if Fidlar wrote, “Hey There Delilah.” This track could’ve been significantly better if the chorus wasn’t so bad. Zac’s voice sounds like it’s about to crack with every note, and not in a good way.
Fortunately, the last two tracks on the record almost save the entire thing. “Thought. Mouth.” is a really great track and a pretty nice listen throughout, and closer “Good Times Are Over” is also pretty good, although it has a few moments worthy of an eye-roll. These two tracks, while not anything groundbreaking for the band, do capture what I hoped I would get walking into this album.
Overall, Almost Free is the sound of a band having fun while making no attempt to transfer that fun to the listener. It is headache inducing, loud, and childish, but it also has a lot of moments where the band reminds the listener of what they are capable of. The instruments are all serviceable; nothing is so bad that it needs to be called out but at no point is Max’s drumming or Brandon’s bass playing notable in any way. Fidlar fans would get a kick out of some of the tracks here, and “Can’t You See” is going to be the anthem of the summer, but in the end, Almost Free is almost a disaster.