Review Summary: I’m losing my ambition, going into remission
Opening with a destructively cacophonous groove before it devolves into another completely separate deliciously loud and noisy groove and this record already has you on your toes. “Private Execution” starts this Feelin’ Kinda Free
off in a weird ass way and I’m here for it. It’s disgustingly annoying but somehow danceable and catchy. It’s got layers on top of layers. It’s got edge and heart. Music isn’t supposed to be this good. What’s the catch?
I hadn’t been this floored by an opening track in ***ing years. It has essentially everything I like about art in one song. If the rest of the record was of this quality this would be one of my favorite records. Soon after however, so begins the inconsistency of Feelin’ Kinda Free
as the second track“Taman Shud” sort of stumbles out the door like a drunken fool.
Now this isn’t to say “Taman Shud” is a bad song. In fact, it’s probably my second favorite from the record. It’s got a cool little tribal hip hop thing going on while simplistic little guitars pluck away over the rhythm. Separate guitars glide around rapid fire lyrics spat out with a venom and urgency almost like mosquitoes. What this dude is saying... I’ve no idea... but it sure as hell sounds cool. The only thing is that it doesn’t jive at all with the previous song and kinda ruins the vibe “Private Execution” worked so hard to get us into.
Furthering this slow decline is “Then They Came For Me” which I assume is based on the political poem that crops up in society every couple years or so. This one is good too but the the record starts really losing steam and most of the edge and energy that it had to begin with is gone. A solid song no bones about it but some track list editing may have benefited it from stalling out.
By now though, depending on how you feel about the production, you may be fully immersed into the expansive sound. Or you may be put off by it. It is and mechanical but also warm even if seemingly heavily edited. I personally think it works in the bands favor at times and at others detracts from the feeling you should be having. There is a sort of computerized fuzzy rawness to the production like a digitalized drunk dream.
When you finally get to the middle section of the record the momentum is completely gone. “To Think That I Once Loved You” is an over dramatic ballad of absolute bull***t. It’s way too long and way too boring without really a single redeeming factor to it. “Tailwind” picks the energy back up a bit back from “To Think That I Once Loved You” with some cool harmonies and a low-key chillass beat. Add cool atmosphere and some weird wonky synth solos and now the wheels are turning again. This isn’t a double espresso shot or anything though and only mildly plods along. Unfortunately because it only hints at a a possible climax this only causes further stifling of the vigorous propulsion that kicked the record off.
Things get moving again with “Boredom” which has a strong rhythm and a biting delivery. The singers style over this could almost be described as a rap similar to “Taman Shud” earlier in the album. The singer sure has a lot of charisma in his voice. It’s dirty and snarling with a ridiculous amount of character. That doesn’t mean it’s wholly original though as he sounds a lot like a Nick Cave parody. Obviously this dude can’t touch Cave in terms of quality and the influence looms large over his entire way of singing. However, he doesn’t rip off Cave so much that it works against him. He takes the Cave legacy and puts a new delivery on it and sort of contorts it into his own way of singing. Basically you can tell he was heavily influenced by him but isn’t satisfied with just being an exact copy.
After that you get “Sometimes” which is another slow track. The creepy female vocals and sparse but futuristicish production add a new layer to the records repertoire. It’s a totally stand alone track that doesn’t really fit with the rest of the album but it is a nice little left turn towards the end. Closer “Shut Down SETI” is an extremely strong way to end the record. Lyrically it seems to be a bit ponderous on extra terrestrial activity through the perspective of an earth-dweller. “It’s not that they could be our kings, it’s more about fucckups like Nanjing.” This leads me to believe the song isn’t necessarily about being frightened of aliens taking everyone over, but more scared of the embarrassment and shocking brutality in which humans interact with each other. “Shut Down SETI” ends the record on a high note both on a musical and philosophical level. The melody perfectly rides the rhythm until it all explodes into a noisy mess of a massive sound. Feelin’ Kinda Free
comes full circle on that it bursts out of the bookends and implodes in the middle creating a weird unsatisfying and rollercoaster like experience.
This is the Drones last record and it is unclear if they have called it a day or not at this point. If they do call it quits after this that will be disappointing because there is a lot of interesting experimentation dripping off all of this. I don’t think every idea works 100% of the time but they are taking chances on this record and that is an admirable endeavor. Unfortunately Feelin’ Kinda Free
is a little too uneven at times to be a excellent record but it’s highs are so great that it’s easy to disregard the missteps. For a record whose first chorus has a refrain that moans about “losing my ambition” it definitely has an overabundance of artistic aspirations. Whether these work or not is up to the listener.