This Is Radio Freedom – s/t

This Is Radio Freedom’s self-titled EP strides through 6 synthetically enhanced tracks of edgy British rock. A lot of bands screw themselves by cramming synth effects into rock music, but this time it works. This album offers a handful of progressive, full bodied rock songs.

This Is Radio Freedom sounds like a high strung mix of U2 and Blur, but with the vocals of Bloc Party’s Kele Okereke. Steady, pulsing beats anchor chiming, elevated guitars that shift into power chord mode during choruses. The more aggressive rock moments are solid, but the disc’s strength is its grooves. The bass lines and rhythmic verses drive these songs. At its core, This Is Radio Freedom is a very decent rock band.

The song lengths are perfect. Track 1, “Bombthreat”, is the band’s first single. This song quickly works itself into a rhythm. Its paced, techno-ish beat lurks below stratospheric guitars. A brief interlude sprinkled with piano and synth strings isn’t necessary but isn’t in the way, either. It’s a solid track, but not the album’s best.

“Lady Lucifer” is better. This rock song thankfully sounds a little dirtier. Again, the synth effects work with the rock aesthetic–not against it. The track moves forward with gritted teeth.

The disc’s second single is “Family Man”. Here, the synths assert themselves. But the song’s rumbling groove is unfazed by the zaps of sticky static. The vocal delivery on “Family Man” attempts more dynamics but still plays it safe. This track also boasts the album’s first solid hook.

The next two tracks drag. The digital effects on “Let It Go” sound forced, like tokens to make the song sound more progressive than it really is. But salvation is soon found, if only momentarily, when the guitar slings out a punchy Southern (USA) rock riff. The addition of brass is also welcome. “Not for You” is a stripped down balled featuring only a clean electric guitar and vocal. Doesn’t work.

“Sleep It Off” marks the album’s second successful use of brass. The paced snare beat and thick rhythms sound better when the cymbals wake up halfway through the song.

The album’s final three tracks are remixes of “Family Man”. The first, by Dan Le Sac, is beat packed but balances that with a light atmosphere. Astrosnooze’s remix features a heavy, syrupy synth line and dance beat. In contrast, Evils’ remix sounds pleasantly airy with a tempered pulse. The original track is barely recognizable here.

This Is Radio Freedom’s self-titled EP is radio friendly but not pop driven. It’s equal parts hard and alternative rock. This is not a thrilling record, and the band is not leading any revolutions. But their progressive attitude about rock music sounds good. Rock fans that enjoy digital treatments will enjoy.