Artist: Freelance Whales
Genre: Folk/Indie Pop
Release date: October 9, 2012
For fans of: The Morning Benders, Local Natives, Blind Pilot
Freelance Whales‘ sophomore effort Diluvia marks the triumphant return of chivalry; the first date, holding hands, opening the door for your lady and putting your coat over a puddle so she doesn’t have to walk through it. It’s those lost arts with an added sense of nostalgia, taking you to places both familiar and new with the people that mean the most to you. In its nearly 53 minute run-time, Diluvia will make your heart happy and exuberant while making you feel comfortably at home.
The effort opens elegantly with “Aeolus,” a beautifully harmonious contribution from all members, displaying their masterful musicianship with a wide array of instruments and the well-meshed vocal abilities of frontman Judah Dadone and multi-instrumentalist bandmate, Doris Cellar. With an almost eerily hypnotic vibe throughout, “Aeolus” is haunting and sticks with you, making Diluvia immediately effective with only its first attempt.
Just under four minutes after “Aeolus” fades we come to the album’s third offering. “Follow Through” is a synth-driven pop ballad reminiscent of an 80’s hit or an M83 favorite. Halfway into the track we experience one of Diluvia‘s most intimate moments as Dadone brings his heart to your ears in the form of words. It’s songs like “Follow Through” that make you want to be in a room with your closest friends, smiling, singing in unison, feeling like everything is going to be okay, even if said song is beautifully heartbreaking. This track changed my day entirely in the best possible way, reminding me of the Death Cab For Cutie scene in the “Terror Starts At Home” episode of Six Feet Under. It’s infectiously powerful but that theme could apply to Diluvia as a whole.
The album’s centerpiece, “Dig Into Waves,” approaches with a playful “Ring Around the Rosie” vibe transitioning into Diluvia‘s catchiest chorus that really hasn’t left my head since my first listen through. “Dig Into Waves” is likely the most accessible track the album has to offer a new listener but that doesn’t necessarily make it the weakest for someone who’s already a fan of the band. Either way, this song makes me want to drive along the coast with windows down, smelling the sea-salted air and forgetting that anything troubling exists.
At nearly eight minutes in length, Diluvia‘s tenth track, “DNA Bank,” is the longest and possibly its prettiest share, having a primarily vocal focus and very little background (banjo and ambience) until roughly halfway into its structure where it develops more layers of strings and percussion, adding a fuller sound to its already charming tone. As “DNA Bank” eases into a close we’re greeted with Diluvia‘s conclusion in “Emergency Exit.” As the background melody slowly flutters around your mind, Dadone refuses to let us leave in disappointment as he continues to let the emotion show through in his lyrics accompanied by the addition of his bandmates’ voices helping to repeat his lines, ending the whole of Diluvia with a true cooperation from its five creators.
This New York folk-pop quintet not only have one of the more original names in the scene, but one of the most original sounds to match. It’s ambitious but convincing in its execution, making the band’s talent and evolution all the more evident. Their inventive approach to a somewhat redundant genre is refreshing and it shows as Freelance Whales have fashioned a gargantuan gem with Diluvia, proving that 2009’s Weathervanes wasn’t a fluke, but an indication of the genius to come.
Review written by: Brian Lion – Follow him on Twitter