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Nutshell Album Review: Freelance Whales – Diluvia

Back in June we reported that Freelance Whales was working on an album set for a late Summer release, and lo and behold, we are blessed with the group’s second LP Diluvia, the follow-up to 2010’s Weathervanes. The writing of this album was approached from a different level, with all band members contributing to writing and an overall new sound. There is some “Generator”-ey feel thrown in to fill in the blanks, but Freelance Whales steps into a new setting, like when Kurt Angle left the WWE and went to TNA (what?). Diluvia turns out as something interesting, and it’s definitely one that will catch your attention.

The album opens up with “Aeolus”, a song that is unpronounceable,  and has a large taste of the interlude-like dream sequence songs heard on Weathervanes. It instantly gives the album an inappropriately Summery sound with music-festival-hill-sitting potential. The next song is “Land Features”, a peppy one with stuttery drum beats and skillful harmonies. This one also puts a large emphasis on synthy keyboards and a horn section that will make more than one appearance on the album. “Follow Through” is what follows, a much slower song with almost club-like bass beats and a pop ballad refrain. Even though this one strays from the usual Freelance Whales sound, it’s definitely a nice one to check out.

When we’re on the subject of the usual Freelance Whales sound, it’s only fitting that the next song, “Spitting Image” is almost definitely a rewrite of a song that didn’t make their 2010 debut. The song puts forth more energy than usual, and features the “ooo”s and “ahh”s fans are used to, along with lead vocals from Doris Cellar. “Locked Out” is another far cry from what was expected of Diluvia, but it is also another one that is a must for listeners of this album. It is followed by “Dig Into Waves”, a song reminiscent of The Temper Trap and the poppier side of AWOLNATION. It brings back the synths from earlier and tosses in a very upbeat drum part to fill it with energy. “Red Star” is the next track, a five minute, quiet opening build-up that climaxes with the return of the horn section (more like the best band name ever).

“Winter Seeds” brings in a large assortment of instruments to help the five-piece return to that taunting sitting-on-a-hill-at-a-music-festival sound. This is one of the best mediums between the general sounds of their two albums to date, and the medium is beautiful. And don’t worry, festival season will be here soon enough. Next up is “The Nothing”, an overall wonderful vocal performance by Judah Dadone, along with spot on, note-for-note keyboard overdubbing. The album then comes to a close with the almost eight minute “DNA Bank”, a very relaxing, generally pretty, and well-prepared sandwich of everything on this album, and “Emergence Exit”, another slow starter that caps off on an energetic note.

Freelance Whales is not a name that currently rings bells with many people, but they are definitely a band that has done their fair share of the whole “having your music be on everything you can possibly get it on” thing. On top of that, they are one of the solid, new indie folk bands that would privilege the music world by sticking around for a few more albums. Their change of sound from Weathervanes to Diluvia was plain ballsy, but they made it work for themselves and everyone involved by creating a weird, pseudo techno folk thing. The unique approach to the modern folk sound not only earns their drummer, Jacob Hyman, Nutshell’s “Awesomely Creative Drum Beat Award” that was just now made up, but it also gets Freelance Whales an 87/100 for Diluvia. Now stop reading and go get it. I mean honestly, who reads?

Diluvia Tracklisting:

  1. Aeolus
  2. Land Features
  3. Follow Through
  4. Spitting Image
  5. Locked Out
  6. Dig Into Waves
  7. Red Star
  8. Winter Seeds
  9. The Nothing
  10. DNA Bank
  11. Emergence Exit
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