As the lines between emo and pop-punk continue to blur, Free Energy offers up a full-length debut that somehow manages to balance the best of both worlds. Consistently edgy with minimal infusions of angst, Stuck on Nothing
joins a host of other staples in a punk rock scene that has become a cultural, if not commercial, mainstream.
It's clear from the record's beginning that there are pop-punk roots in Free Energy's music. The opener builds quickly with pep-rally familiarity, maintaining an anthemic drive throughout the first third of the album before mellowing out to embrace the softer emo qualities which lurk beneath. While such diversity seems subtle in the beginning, by the record's midsection the tracks ooze with variance, including a brief interlude with strings, a few ragged classic rock era guitar leads, and a even a sampling of bubble-gum acoustic tracks.
More refreshing, however, than the diversity Free Energy exhibits within themselves as musicians is the meticulous detail given to production. The levels can change on a dime at any interval, yet even the most obvious shifts are executed with such fluidity as to affect only the feeling in the moment and not the experience of the song. With tattered, treble leads and close, driving rhythms pitted against sustained palm mutes and those signature sensitive emo lyrics, Stuck on Nothing
lays out a consistent yet dynamic balance.
The bad news is that balanced and diverse as Stuck on Nothing
may be, there isn't much to separate Free Energy from the other tight, well-produced emo-pop-punk-mainstream bands. That's not to say that nothing ever will; this is, after all, the band's first crack at full-length. But no matter what happens between here and there, we can at least be thankful that Stuck on Nothing
offers a healthy, relatively angst-free dose of emo that adults can listen to without having flashbacks of high school keg parties in mid-Nineties suburbia. -Josh Cacopardo
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MP3:"Hope Child" - Stuck On Nothing
Free Energy on Myspace