Fred Again..
Actual Life (April 14 – December 17, 2020)



by Odal USER (23 Reviews)
November 22nd, 2021 | 4 replies

Release Date: 01/01/2021 | Tracklist

Review Summary: For your consideration: album of the year.

In this smoking chaos, our shoulder blades kissed. I found you.

I’m convinced at this point that there’s nothing more cliche than starting a review of any sort of media in the past two years and contrasting its mere presence with the general state of the world. As I’ve rang in my 30’s, I’ve gained almost Pavlovian urge to vomit as I hear sad corporate piano music urging us to that we’ll get through these “uncertain times” together thanks to some car insurance in much the same way that I was with the ungodly amounts of Axe Body Spray in my Junior High locker room nearly 20 years ago. It’s tiring. You’ve heard. I’ve heard it. We’ve all heard it. Everything. The same message over and over. The same message with the backlash to that message over and over. The same message to that message over and over. The cycle never ends. That it’s still just as valid nearly two years into the pandemic is a testament to both maybe a futile search for meaning and an endless urge to put a bow on a box that might not be there. People have, of course, been doing this forever. It’s only when the globe has been stunlocked into a state that is almost paradoxically standing still and making quantum leaps forward at the same time that these sorts of meditations seem so pointless and obvious. Personally, the lines between the last twenty or so months have been blurred so much to the point that they don’t exist. This is 2020 Part II: Electric Boogaloo This Time It’s Personal.

That’s quite a lot of wank to start of anything, especially for a guy who on paper is probably best known for producing some of Ed Sheeran’s most maligned contributions to the culture, and yet Fred Again..’s debut, Actual Life (April 14 – December 17 2020), is exactly the kind of album of album that makes you want to wax poetic and gush gobbledygook. When I see those months in its title and rife through its contents, it’s hard to not be reminded of the days-long discord video calls I had with my girlfriend at the time who lived a state away, the endless headlines that radicalized me into a bleeding heart lefty, the crushing weight of relationships drifting apart or suddenly crashing, and death claiming several of my loved ones. It’s an album that doesn’t try to make a commentary on the state of the world it was created in, so much as it’s a diary of someone just trying to get through the day and recalling all the human things we’ve lost.

Chief among the things Fred feels we’ve lost is dancing. Spoiler warning, but one need not look further than the album’s bonus track to get that sense. “Marea (We’ve Lost Dancing)” serves as a nice thesis to the album’s personal bloodletting that above all the doom and gloom from the last year that Fred misses the ability to shake some ass with a large group of people. Thankfully, Fred provides all the ammo one would need to stick it to the town of Footloose’s mayor and bring us back to nightlife utopia.

Throughout its 50 minute runtime, Actual Life (April 14 – December 17 2020) dazzles with endless dancescapes that blend the line between euphoric and meditative. Beginning with its first full track, “Kyle (I’ve Found You)” is a masterclass of tonesetting that brings to mind sweaty bodies and cigarette smoke and the comedown after with the best people in your life. At the risk of maybe sound sappy or simple, I can tell you that hearing “you’re beautiful” and “I found you” is just…nice. A real dopamine rush with its own soundtrack. Its half-finished spoken sentiments sound like memories-turned-mantras that are repeated throughout its other songs and begin to sound as achingly beautiful to you as they must have to Fred when he strung the samples together.

Like James Blake before him, Fred also contributes an effective -if a bit basic- vocal performance that really helps the songs settle into a groove that, between the soul-stirring samples and wistful dubstep-meets-house production, feels unique and personal to the man. Songs will usually waffle between being more sample-laden like “Julia (Deep Diving)” where the driving production can take center stage or more of vocal approach like on the stunning proper album closer “Angie (I’ve Been Lost)”.

If it sounds like I’m being a little light on details here, it’s because Actual Life (April 14 – December 17 2020) and its newly released sequel really need to be heard to be believed. Trying to transfer into words what makes this album so special and powerful feels like a fool’s errand because it sounds like scrolling through a rolodex of memory.. Fred has crafted an experience that recalls and reflects so much of a time period that many of us will never forget, much to our own chagrin. Believe me, I’m getting tired of these over-the-top claims too. But I’ll leave off with one final one: do not finalize those year-end lists without giving this one a listen. Now, go forth and shake some ass.

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Comments:Add a Comment 
November 22nd 2021


Album Rating: 5.0

This dropped back in april and how it got no attention on here absolutely blows my mind.

Its sequel, which is similarly amazing, dropped last week so make sure you check that out too.

November 22nd 2021


I have no idea what this is but I'll definitely be giving it a listen, now.

November 22nd 2021


Album Rating: 5.0

Let me know what you think!

November 22nd 2021


hey it’s FRED

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