L.A. upstarts FIDLAR have never been ones to tread lightly.
Ever since the beginning of their career back in 2011, they’ve held a mighty punk fist in the air, clutching a can of beer, and flailed wildly, not giving a fuck who gets in the way. Carrying around a litany of influences - both musical and, ahem, chemical - FIDLAR are a rare band who can pull it off without any fleeting sense of contrition.
Almost Free is FIDLAR barking wildly on chains threatening to break. Three albums in and the sound, and mind, of the four-piece, has done very little to mature - which they wear with considerable pride, and a true testament to the mantra that makes up their name - Fuck It Dog, Life’s a Risk.
While their debut, self-titled, offering was a raucous chorus of distorted punk anthems, their second (Too, 2016) found room for development while still calling back to songs of the past, holding a youthful exuberance. Almost Free, however, stands firmly alone in its ideas. The sounds of the Beastie Boys pop up immediately on “Get Off My Rock”, and rear again occasionally throughout, but the real development shows in some of the cuts that hold back, and instead letting the surfing melodies - and sweeping horns - take flight. “Scam Likely” is as close to a sun-kissed California beach that you can get without dropping a few hundred on a plane ticket.
Leading single “Can't You See” brings some more of this subdued nature, and instead swaps it for an egotistical swagger that fits Zac Carper and Elvis Kuehn’s street-walking materialistic lyrics. ’Alcohol’ wouldn’t be out of place on their debut with its titular screaming call reminiscent of fan-favourite cut “Cocaine” - just swapping for a more public-friendly toxin. Of course, it’s not all party time. “By Myself” clocks in on the after-effects of such activities by honing in on the mental health side, and boring nature of being sober, similar to “Kick” which drives home the point with a wandering musical line as “I really want to do some drugs, I think I’m suicidal”, while “Too Real” gets political.
All in all, Almost Free is a FIDLAR album - brash, unhinged, wild, a tad nonsensical, but most of all, a testament to their nature. There’s mature growth in the understanding of the real darkness in our heads, and the world, but the overwhelming impression is one of a kind of positive resignation: life’s a risk - fuck it.