Entertainment Entertainment Music

Album review: Free Energy, 'Love Sign'

*** (out of four)

Though Free Energy’s 2010 debut “Stuck on Nothing” is perfect for summer listening, it was virtually my soundtrack for the entire year. I just couldn’t get enough of the band’s affection for big ‘70s rock hooks and the sort of hopefulness that puts an effortless smile on your face.

The Philadelphia outfit’s follow-up, “Love Sign,” doesn’t electrify as consistently. Paul Sprangers really needs to stop talking about “feeling it coming,” a phrase he used on “Stuck on Nothing” and incorporates repeatedly (and annoyingly) on “Love Sign,” one of several indications the Free Energy vocalist doesn’t have a great deal to say.

That said, the album’s peaks make it easier to move through the less-memorable moments (“Hey Tonight,” “Hangin’”) of “Love Sign.” The highlight’s undoubtedly “Backscratcher,” which offers the disc’s best, biggest riff and the kind of solos people who don’t know how to play guitar imagine they’d play if they ever learned. “Street Survivor” and “Dance All Night” inspire a bit more reflection than usual, while closer “Time Rolls On” usefully incorporates horns and hand-claps for the kind of tune that will probably appear in a film’s late-movie montage. Opening track/lead single “Electric Fever” is, cough, classic Free Energy, its infectious “whoa-ohs” and upbeat optimism making even a freezing Chicago day seem sunny.

Delivering more cowbell and more good vibes, Free Energy still gives you reasons to bust out the air guitar and/or sing along, but in concert you’ll likely hope they focus mostly on the older material. “Like Sign” would have been more appropriate.

In concert: Jan. 18 at Schubas
 

Watch Matt on “You & Me This Morning,” Friday at 6:55 a.m. on WCIU, the U

mpais@tribune.com

 

Want more? Discuss this article and others on RedEye's Facebook page.

 

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
Related Content
  • Man fatally shot after argument over woman at South Loop lounge
    Man fatally shot after argument over woman at South Loop lounge

    An argument over a woman led to one man being killed and another wounded during a shooting inside a South Loop music lounge early Saturday, police said.

  • Oklahoma fraternity's racist chant learned on a cruise
    Oklahoma fraternity's racist chant learned on a cruise

    Members of a University of Oklahoma fraternity apparently learned a racist chant that recently got their chapter disbanded during a national leadership cruise four years ago that was sponsored by the fraternity's national administration, the university's president said Friday.

  • In NYC building collapse, mayor cites 'inappropriately' tapped gas line; 2 missing
    In NYC building collapse, mayor cites 'inappropriately' tapped gas line; 2 missing

    Someone may have improperly tapped a gas line before an explosion that leveled three apartment buildings and injured nearly two dozen people, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday as firefighters soaked the still-smoldering buildings and police searched for at least two missing people.

  • Emanuel uses borrowing to cope with Daley's debt burden
    Emanuel uses borrowing to cope with Daley's debt burden

    Mayor Rahm Emanuel has reduced spending and increased fines, fees and certain taxes to shrink the chronic budget deficits left over from his predecessor, Richard M. Daley.

  • Six Flags Great America's lost attractions
    Six Flags Great America's lost attractions

    Not every ride's the Willard's Whizzer. That iconic coaster debuted in 1976 when Marriott's Great America, now Six Flags Great America, in Gurnee, Ill., first opened. And it's still popular today. But for every Whizzer there's a Tidal Wave, Shockwave or Z-Force, rides existing only in memory.

  • Denim's just getting started
    Denim's just getting started

    Five years ago, denim-on-denim defied all of the dire warnings in the "Undateable" handbook: Instead of evoking John Denver or Britney Spears in her misstyled youth, chambray shirts paired with darker blue jeans became as cool as actor Johnny Depp and street-style heroine Alexa Chung.

Comments
Loading