Freelance Whales conjures up sounds that shimmer and coalesce, only to break apart again into new forms. This four year old five piece creates beautiful indie-pop masterpieces, mini-epics of subtle aural fragility.
So much of the overall sound of the band reflects Judah Dadone’s personality. The lead vocalist for the band, his vocals are imbued with an emotional fragility; the words emerge through his voice, an ethereal instrument, delicate and introspective.
Doris Cellar, the sole woman in the band, provides interesting contrast; her tone and overall presence are much more direct, though no less emotive.
All of this engaging vocalizing unfolds in the middle of an orchestrated barrage of synthesizer textures and a style of writing that takes traditional song structures and morphs them, rendering them as set pieces which unfold in the moment. At times there is a minimalist quality to the arpeggiations and other accompanying figures, almost in the vein of Phillip Glass. At other times there is an understated grandiosity, synth washes in the upper register and churning bass synths in the lower. Check out ‘Dig into Waves’.
The eleven tracks on the album definitely play out as a winding journey. Track seven, ‘Red Star’, feels like the beginning of the second half. The break between it and the preceding one, the aforementioned ‘Dig into Waves’ takes on a monumental quality when ‘Red Star’ commences. ‘Red Star’ displays their sense of drama, pacing and development; the drums don’t kick in until halfway through the second minute.
Aside from that, I don’t want to say too much more. Words muddy the process. There’s poetry in the music, and poetry in the lyrics. The songs are well written and the band seems to attack the process of developing the material by treating the instruments as a palette; there’s a sense of orchestration about the whole thing. The melodic line of the vocal part is truly the backbone of the songwriting process, not just one of the elements. The end result is beautiful and intriguing.