Before listening to Almost Free, take a moment of silence for the punk band that was FIDLAR. A band that kept a distinct brand of California surf punk afloat within scuzzy guitar and poignant lyricism. On their third studio album, welcome modern-pop/rock band, FIDLAR. A perpetually bummed out quartet making smart music veiled by a Coachella after party type of haze. Both bands (while being one in the same) serve a purpose.
There are a lot of great elements layered onto Almost Free. It’s a record that is self-aware, though at times excruciatingly polished. Following Zac Carper’s journey to sobriety, gone are the days of FIDLAR’s reckless garage punk. But, overall, that’s ok. They’ve matured into a new sound that is genuinely fun and staunchly honest. The album starts strong with “Get Off My Rock”, easing you into their new sound, resembling Beastie Boys style rap-rock. This doesn’t last long, though, as it becomes immediately clear that they’ve traded in intoxicated raucous for funky guitar riffs (“Can’t You See”, “Alcohol”, “Almost Free”, “Thought.Mouth”).
It takes a moment to get a handle of FIDLAR’s new brand of music, especially because it changes stylistically from song to song. Having major high points on the record include the subtle use of brass band instruments (horns! trumpets! trombones!) throughout. Conversely so, is their frank lyricism. Lyrically, FIDLAR has always been successful. Almost Free shows a group fed up with what has become the 21st century norm. This is clear on tracks like “Too Real” with lines saying “you can blame it on the left or you can blame it on the right just admit it you just like to fight” repeatedly begging the listener “was that too fucking real?”. Or “Flake” (sounding a bit Black Keys-esque at times, Cage the Elephant at others), a tune with a steady beat and technically exciting guitar riffs, they say “I think you’re a flake, but that’s OK, it’s LA”. FIDLAR aren’t revolutionary, but it’s easy to pay attention to what they are saying, giving it merit based on the rawness of how they choose to deliver their message. This is where they harness consistency.
“Can’t You See” that FIDLAR’s new video is pretty darn rad?
As a whole, this is probably FIDLAR’s best record to date. Long time fans may need to be won over, but it is evident that where it falters Almost Free picks up the slack by adventurously leaning into their natural electricity. This is an album that doesn’t allude to anything, they tell it how it is; whether that be through lovelorn desperation (“Thought. Mouth”) or succumbing to what feels inevitable, “I guess I’ll go get sober” (“Good Times Are Over”). They may not be as stripped down as in their previous records, but Almost Free shows that FIDLAR are still loud, evocative and ready to party.
Almost Free Track Listing:
01. Get Off My Rock
02. Can’t You See
03. By Myself
06. Almost Free
07. Scam Likely
08. Called You Twice ft. K.Flay
10. Too Real
13. Good Times Are Over
Run Time: 41:44
Release Date: January 25, 2019
Record Label: Mom + Pop Music (US), Dine Alone (CAN)