FIDLAR - Almost Free
…And asked, "Who the fuck am I?"
I didn't know it felt good to cry…
The third album from LA punkers FIDLAR showcases the band exploring a decidedly new musical realm. The thrashing punk riffs and lyrical honesty still make up the underbelly of everything that makes FIDLAR worth listening to, but this time around, the band is a little more self-aware and unafraid to explore new ideas.
It’s been a short six years since FIDLAR exploded onto the scene as the fresh new voice in a stagnant punk scene. Frontman Zac Carper has been open and honest about his addictions since day one. From shooting speed throughout their drug-fuelled debut album to being clean of drugs on FIDLAR’s second album Too, Carper embraces growth - and the band's discography reflects the openness.
It may not mean drugs are forever in his rear-view mirror, as Carper told GQ, “Who knows? Maybe tomorrow I start smoking meth again. Who fuckin' knows? That's the great thing about life.”
Almost Free is a good time. One part Kid Rock, one part The Vines, one part Beastie Boys, the album has the quintessential FIDLAR energy. Opening up with “Get Off My Rock”, a “Sabotage” groove under an anthem about gentrification, the booming bass sets the tone for an album with a strong opinion and stronger hooks.
The third song “By Myself” is almost jarring in how infectiously dance-y it is. While it’s incredibly upbeat, there’s a clear and intentional juxtaposition between its happy vibe and dark lyricism. While the guitar playfully upstrokes, Carper muses,
“Yeah, started from the bottom and I'm still at the bottom, and I spent the night in jail, turned out it wasn't the bottom, and I lost so many friends who knew that I was the problem.”
The song is also undeniably polished, at which point its worth mentioning Ricky Reed is the heavyweight producer responsible for recording Almost Free.
Things shift back to their punk roots in hurry. “Flake” and “Alcohol” are full throttle punk jam tunes with screeching solos, more deep grooves, and more heart wide open lyrics about escapism, alcohol, and distrust in programs trying to profit off self-healing.
The album is a compact 41 minutes with straight-ahead songwriting with zero wandering sections. There are two short tunes, title track “Almost Free” and “Nuke”, two songs with wicked riffs that the band clearly loved but were unable to expand into full-fledged songs.
They work as great transitions from different sections of the album. “Nuke” takes us from the saccharine breakup song with collaborator K. Flay “Called You Twice” into the raw album standout “Too Real.”
FIDLAR started working on Almost Free with no plan and no message. The band records music like they live life, letting things happen organically and letting the music grow.
Almost Free sees the band letting their talents take them wherever feels right, and while it may stifle a larger, more cohesive album, it’s unquestionably FIDLAR.
The punk riffs, chunky bass and badass solos are there. There heartache and struggle is there. The band successfully walks the tightrope between staying true to itself while exploring new ideas. And while FIDLAR didn’t entirely break new ground this time around, the sounds on Almost Free are as fresh as when the band first debuted to the world.