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Gregory Robson 10/09/12 05:20 AM

Freelance Whales - Diluvia
 
Freelance Whales - Diluvia
Record Label: French Kiss/Mom + Pop Music
Release Date: Oct. 9, 2012


In describing their sophomore album Diluvia, Freelance Whales frontman Judah Dadone was quick to point out that the disc took much of its inspiration from watching the cult film The Neverending Story. From there, Diluvia's central themes focused on topics like space exploration, wanderlust and adventure. In a nod to said movie, Diluvia even features a song with the title "The Nothing." That it is also one of the disc's most inspired moments is probably no coincidence. Beginning pleasantly and with their trademark electro-landscape the song is a modest ode to a rather violent force of nature. There's even a brief period at which "The Nothing," begins to sound like background music. But with his sincere delivery, vocalist Judah Dadone keeps you hanging on and sure enough the song opens up and turns into a celestial and cinematic tour-de-force. Dadone is blessed with a voice and a band that can turn the most mundane and humdrum moments into something truly rewarding.

Lead single "Locked Out," is definitely airy and ethereal. Richly layered, the song features the distinct sound of bells and the guitars sound a bit frantic, but the anchor are Dadone's gauzy and gossamery vocals. Overall, "Locked Out," seems to be more about feel and tone. At the minute-mark the synths swirl and the entire things feels dreamy and luminescent. Horns kick in at the 1:22 mark and "Locked Out," add a new wrinkle. A minute later the song dives into another layer of luminescence and evolves into something dreamy and colorful. As Dadone sings the refrain, "We have the rations to go anywhere," the entire veneer becomes inviting and enveloping and all of a sudden a sense of wanderlust begins to creep in. It's one thing to sing about whimsy and exploration, but achieving that in song texture is something else entirely and that Freelance Whales captures that is a testament to their inherent gifts.

In addition to crediting The Neverending Story, Dadone had also mentioned that for the first time in their career, the band came together with ideas for songs, allowing the making of Diluvia to be more collaborative and less inward. That sense of collectivism is most definitely felt on the ringing "Spitting Image," in which vocalist Doris Cellar spins together a hazy albeit anthemic charmer that is honey-drenched, euphoric and sweetly affecting. Arguably one of their poppiest and most accessible songs to date, "Spitting Image," is a titan of a track. Both Dadone and Cellar have mentioned that the song was an attempt for the band to move into a direction that is more expansive and outward and "Spitting Image," most certainly accomplishes that.

While "Spitting Image," "Locked Out," and "The Nothing," can arguably be considered the disc's best songs, that title might actually belong to "Follow Through,'" a synth-driven masterwork in which Dadone's voice quivers with an honesty and sincerity that is so rare to find. He has an innate ability to sing and draw you in like few others. Like musical valium, the band has a pulse on how to write songs that are steeped in placidity and "Locked Out," is no exception. If you only listen to one song off Diluvia, it damn well better be this one.

As one would hope, Diluvia has few flaws. Opener "Aeolus," is haunting and hypnotic with a nuanced restraint that feels more fine-tuned and tucked in than Weathervanes. Their signature swirl of sounds is once again present and it is the lynchpin that keeps the band so darn infectious. On the whole "Aelous," draws its energy from the textures and not so much Dadone's vocals, though they certainly don't detract from the effort either. The distinct sense of fine-tuning is echoed in the assuaging "Land Features," a harnessed affair that is narrative-driven and laden with confidence. Taking its cue from "Aelous," "Land Features," also seems more interested on laying down a foundation of comfort and not relying too heavily on Dadone's vocals or verses.

The breezy, "Dig Into Waves," glides with an effortlessness and ease that is equal parts cozy and exciting. Much like driving a car off a new lot, "Dig Into Waves," has an easygoing sentiment that is primed for autumn evening drives. The last of the disc's gauzy efforts is album closer "Emergency Exit," an amiable and cottony effort that begins airy and light and segues into something a bit more profound towards the finish. While it makes for a fine closing track, that title should have gone to the 8-minute epic "DNA Bank," an intimate and lingering composition that begins as nothing more than celestial noise and develops into something indelible, impacting and wholly moving.

And it is those three traits that make Diluvia well worth the listen. Even on the understated "Red Star," and the poignant "Winter Seeds," both of which feature vocals from Cellar, there's a distinct sense that Diluvia is the direct result of a band putting their best foot forward and tapping into something truly profound. While it may lack the immediate magnetism of Weathervanes, there's plenty of reasons to think when all is said and done, Diluvia will be the album that carries them forward and cements their status as one of New York City's most creative and rewarding indie bands.

Recommended If You Like Hooray for Earth, The Postal Service, The Neverending Story, Brian Eno


Find Them Here http://www.freelancewhales.com

CoheedForever 10/09/12 08:13 AM

Can't wait to give this a listen. Good review.

jdr277 10/09/12 08:29 AM

Absolutely loved this album after only hearing half of Aeolus I knew this was going to be a winner. Every listen digs me deeper into this wonderful land they have created. This is shear brilliance and a breath of fresh air which IMO is extremely difficult with all the music there is anymore. I'd be more thank surprised if any album could knock this from my #1 position. I will be listening to this album years from now.

Also Hemispheres? What are you talking about? Did you mean Weathervanes?

Gregory Robson 10/09/12 09:13 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jdr277 (Post 114002802)
Absolutely loved this album after only hearing half of Aeolus I knew this was going to be a winner. Every listen digs me deeper into this wonderful land they have created. This is shear brilliance and a breath of fresh air which IMO is extremely difficult with all the music there is anymore. I'd be more thank surprised if any album could knock this from my #1 position. I will be listening to this album years from now.

Also Hemispheres? What are you talking about? Did you mean Weathervanes?

Yeah, I did mean Weathervanes. I was listening to an album called Hemispheres at the time. My bad. Fixing now. I really need a copy-editor. Sheesh.

Spenny 10/09/12 10:14 AM

Great album. Hasn't quite surpassed Weathervanes for me yet, but it's definitely a grower that could do so in the near future!

The Gryphonator 10/09/12 11:07 AM

This album is fantastic. They've expanded upon their sound and I can definitely see influences from bands like Arcade Fire, Anathallo, etc.

Soooo pleased with this. Definitely in my top 3 for AOTY.

jdr277 10/09/12 12:36 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Gregory Robson (Post 114004212)
Yeah, I did mean Weathervanes. I was listening to an album called Hemispheres at the time. My bad. Fixing now. I really need a copy-editor. Sheesh.

No problem I just got excited like there was some album I missed, which quickly disappointed me after a short google search hah... But really nice review, I've read a bunch of reviews of this album and it's funny how each one had high reviews but completely different opinions on the standout tracks, for me my fav tracks change with each listen but as a whole the album just keeps getting stronger and stronger. It's a shame that most ppl won't give this album the needed time to really unravel all the magic it holds.

The Gryphonator 10/09/12 01:14 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jdr277 (Post 114014652)
No problem I just got excited like there was some album I missed, which quickly disappointed me after a short google search hah... But really nice review, I've read a bunch of reviews of this album and it's funny how each one had high reviews but completely different opinions on the standout tracks, for me my fav tracks change with each listen but as a whole the album just keeps getting stronger and stronger. It's a shame that most ppl won't give this album the needed time to really unravel all the magic it holds.

I think that's the sign of a really good album. When everyone disagrees on standout/favorite tracks, that usually means they are all really great.

Btw, what do you mean that most people wont give the album a chance?

Gregory Robson 10/09/12 01:29 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by The Gryphonator (Post 114016842)
I think that's the sign of a really good album. When everyone disagrees on standout/favorite tracks, that usually means they are all really great.

Btw, what do you mean that most people wont give the album a chance?

It's the truth of it. Check how many views this review gets. Then check how many All Time Low gets. Facts are facts. We can hope for a sea change but it's a long way from happening.

The Gryphonator 10/09/12 01:46 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Gregory Robson (Post 114017482)
It's the truth of it. Check how many views this review gets. Then check how many All Time Low gets. Facts are facts. We can hope for a sea change but it's a long way from happening.

I see what you mean. It's not just the album, its the band. Yeah, I totally agree. They don't get nearly as much attention as they should. Hopefully this album helps them out with that. It's a really good album and definitely deserves it.

jdr277 10/09/12 01:51 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by The Gryphonator (Post 114016842)
I think that's the sign of a really good album. When everyone disagrees on standout/favorite tracks, that usually means they are all really great.

Btw, what do you mean that most people wont give the album a chance?

Well personally after hearing "Locked Out" and "Spitting Image" earlier this year I was getting worried because they weren't Hannah/Starring material, but after I sat down with the whole album I loved every track. I just feel like not everyone will actually spin this album in it's entirety enough times to really sink in especially if they are hoping for those hooky pop songs that Diluvia lacks. For example this album doesn't really work on a playlist because the songs lose some of there greatness when they are heard out of context I guess... True fans will love it but the band most likely won't gain too many new fans because it lacks accessability, Personally I think it's as good as it gets and a huge step forward for the band.

The Gryphonator 10/09/12 01:56 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jdr277 (Post 114018322)
Well personally after hearing "Locked Out" and "Spitting Image" earlier this year I was getting worried because they weren't Hannah/Starring material, but after I sat down with the whole album I loved every track. I just feel like not everyone will actually spin this album in it's entirety enough times to really sink in especially if they are hoping for those hooky pop songs that Diluvia lacks. For example this album doesn't really work on a playlist because the songs lose some of there greatness when they are heard out of context I guess... True fans will love it but the band most likely won't gain too many new fans because it lacks accessability, Personally I think it's as good as it gets and a huge step forward for the band.

Yeah, I felt the same way when I heard Locked Out. It's SO MUCH BETTER in context with the album. Didn't leave any impact on me until I heard the rest.

And hopefully they get bigger, I don't think they will ever... "blow up." But we'll see what happens.

Gregory Robson 10/09/12 01:59 PM

They won't blow up, they're too nuanced.

jonwangcb 10/09/12 02:04 PM

I'm beginning to really like this album, but it's big flaw is how "cute" it is. It's not just Spitting Image that's honey-drenched...the whole album is. Gone is the rawness that helped make Weathervanes what it was. Granted, most bands strive to step away from that sound, so I digress on that point.

But what happened to Judah Dadone's voice? When I first heard Dig Into the Waves, I had no idea who was singing it. The vocals are way overproduced, to the point where they're stepping into Owl City territory; especially on Winter Seeds. Judah has a very distinct voice, and that was obvious on Weathervanes. But if anyone has seen them live, they know that his voice is really lacking in that format. I think they overcompensated and his vocals ended up sounding like something or someone he is not.

I still will probably put this in my top 5 for the year, because front to back, this album is very good. These guys just know how to write music.

jdr277 10/09/12 03:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Gregory Robson (Post 114018692)
They won't blow up, they're too nuanced.

They will/already have created a cult following though.

Also I'm glad that choosing this Avatar a couple months ago wasn't a mistake, my previous one (Margot's - Rot, Gut, Domestic) turned out to be a huge letdown and they are one of my favorite bands. I have a feeling very few of my favorite bands will reach my top 10 this year, so many new comers (Kishi Bashi, Alt-J, Dry The River, Vacationer...) have really stolen the spotlight IMO.

The Gryphonator 10/09/12 06:43 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jdr277 (Post 114021622)
They will/already have created a cult following though.

Also I'm glad that choosing this Avatar a couple months ago wasn't a mistake, my previous one (Margot's - Rot, Gut, Domestic) turned out to be a huge letdown and they are one of my favorite bands. I have a feeling very few of my favorite bands will reach my top 10 this year, so many new comers (Kishi Bashi, Alt-J, Dry The River, Vacationer...) have really stolen the spotlight IMO.

Kind of random, but I feel the first 3 songs off the Vacationer album are amazing, the rest aren't nearly as good. What are your thoughts?

The Gryphonator 10/09/12 06:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jonwangcb (Post 114018932)
I'm beginning to really like this album, but it's big flaw is how "cute" it is. It's not just Spitting Image that's honey-drenched...the whole album is. Gone is the rawness that helped make Weathervanes what it was. Granted, most bands strive to step away from that sound, so I digress on that point.

But what happened to Judah Dadone's voice? When I first heard Dig Into the Waves, I had no idea who was singing it. The vocals are way overproduced, to the point where they're stepping into Owl City territory; especially on Winter Seeds. Judah has a very distinct voice, and that was obvious on Weathervanes. But if anyone has seen them live, they know that his voice is really lacking in that format. I think they overcompensated and his vocals ended up sounding like something or someone he is not.

I still will probably put this in my top 5 for the year, because front to back, this album is very good. These guys just know how to write music.

Don't mean to start a fight, but I would argue that Weathervanes is far more "cute" than Diluvia. In fact, I thought this the first time I heard the new album. It seems more mature than Weathervanes. No more lyrics like "Every now and then she offers me a lemon Now & Later."

Gregory Robson 10/09/12 07:06 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by The Gryphonator (Post 114028522)
Don't mean to start a fight, but I would argue that Weathervanes is far more "cute" than Diluvia. In fact, I thought this the first time I heard the new album. It seems more mature than Weathervanes. No more lyrics like "Every now and then she offers me a lemon Now & Later."

Amen to that dude. It is FAR more grown-up. So far from cute. And omg, that lyric. It makes me cringe every time. So glad you brought it up.

jonwangcb 10/09/12 09:46 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by The Gryphonator (Post 114028522)
Don't mean to start a fight, but I would argue that Weathervanes is far more "cute" than Diluvia. In fact, I thought this the first time I heard the new album. It seems more mature than Weathervanes. No more lyrics like "Every now and then she offers me a lemon Now & Later."

That line made me throw up in my mouth. So did the opening line of Kilojoules. But those were just lyrics, and that was only two songs. I guess what I'm trying to say about Diluvia is that it feels very delicate, both vocally and to a lesser extent, musically; I'm not necessarily referring to the lyrics. Maybe 'cute' wasn't the best choice of words.

I definitely agree that this is a major step forward for them. The album just took me a couple listens to get into. At this point, I'm fully immersed.

Gregory Robson 10/10/12 03:25 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jonwangcb (Post 114034442)
That line made me throw up in my mouth. So did the opening line of Kilojoules. But those were just lyrics, and that was only two songs. I guess what I'm trying to say about Diluvia is that it feels very delicate, both vocally and to a lesser extent, musically; I'm not necessarily referring to the lyrics. Maybe 'cute' wasn't the best choice of words.

I definitely agree that this is a major step forward for them. The album just took me a couple listens to get into. At this point, I'm fully immersed.

Oh, it's definitely an album that needs to be listened to at least twice to be fully understood. It felt pretty blah to me on the first listen. And while in some ways that's disappointing (everybody wants to feel an instant connection), I'm pretty darn happy with this album.

de1337ed 10/13/12 06:29 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Gregory Robson (Post 114058812)
Oh, it's definitely an album that needs to be listened to at least twice to be fully understood. It felt pretty blah to me on the first listen. And while in some ways that's disappointing (everybody wants to feel an instant connection), I'm pretty darn happy with this album.

First playthrough I definitely do not like the sound of this...gonna give it another go when I have the time

imtimwhoareyou 10/14/12 10:09 PM

Very different than Weathervanes... I really do actually like it, but I was hoping for a little more melodic draw rather than the ambient, electric feel.. Maybe more plucky banjo than is offered on Diluvia.

However, it's still a pretty complete record. I would love to see them fall somewhere between the two--maturity in lyrics and delivery, but musically more oriented toward the melody and strummed/plucked strings.

I should also mention--Doris Cellar, the female vocalist, sounds like the lead vocalist for Deas Vail... Haha... I could have sworn it was that guy until I read through the credits and did not find him there.

Gregory Robson 10/15/12 05:18 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by imtimwhoareyou (Post 114208272)
Very different than Weathervanes... I really do actually like it, but I was hoping for a little more melodic draw rather than the ambient, electric feel.. Maybe more plucky banjo than is offered on Diluvia.

However, it's still a pretty complete record. I would love to see them fall somewhere between the two--maturity in lyrics and delivery, but musically more oriented toward the melody and strummed/plucked strings.

I should also mention--Doris Cellar, the female vocalist, sounds like the lead vocalist for Deas Vail... Haha... I could have sworn it was that guy until I read through the credits and did not find him there.

I actually think you echo how I feel too. I definitely wanted it to be more melodic and hookier. And instead they went with expansive and celestial. Sigh. Oh wells. It's still a badass album and they are still a badass band. Maybe record three will be the magnum opus we all are aching for.