Saturday, May 18, 2024

Album review: Free School – Dancing on the Dark

Bridging the gap in the pop-dance collison, Free School are making a statement with Dancing on the Dark. Visiting a variety of dancefloor styles; the duo bring audible euhoria coated in messages of love, positivity and unity.

Having invited various guest vocalists to the party, Free School’s album is a portrait of local talent. Each featured artist brings a new edge to the Birmingham duo’s second abum; from flavoursome reggae vibes to smooth sleek pop infusions. Free School’s support of undiscovered talent makes for a carnival of tracks.

Opening with ‘Love Calling’ featuring Tomlin Mystic of Birmingham’s Friendly Fire Band, a relaxed spiritual reggae aura is produced. Powerfully poetic lyrics are vocalized in a style concurrent with talented Tomlin Mystic’s Peter Tosh influence. A Finley Quaye-esque presence is felt during the collaboration in a harmonized speech which reaches the soul. Listening in a state of reclination alongside a Pina Colada seems apt.

‘French Cousins’ brings a jangly funk-filled reminder of early Scissor Sisters material with fitting falsetto vocals from Greg Bird. Bird’s later comeback in the album during ‘Ugly Kids’ brings further raspy melodic trills which beautifully blend with the masterpieces of Free School. The classical opening of ‘Good People’ featuring both Mute Records’ Maps and Greg Bird, lulls listeners into the belief of a serene sound before making way for a dirty pulsating beat and resuming the party. ‘End Time Ministries’ contains lyrics uttered in military precision by Sigmund Freud, encased in a cosmic wave of melodies. Greg Bird is again welcomed in this track adding an essence of calm with his silky vocals at the close.

Tomlin Mystic returns with Katy Prado in ‘Major Crimes’ where lyrics are confessed through refreshing harmonious whispers, catchy repetitions and reggae flavour. True musical intelligence continues to flow with digital tones and electronic beats, encouraging a dancefloor to be lost in the moment.

Previously released single ‘Hudson’s Whistle’ represents the album title, most suitable for the after-party playlist the 6Music favourite defines Free School’s unrivalled ability to create atmosphere through music production. Released alongside ‘Don’t Make Your Life So Hard,’ the Birmingham producers’ versatility and flair is again displayed as they conjure mirages of coloured strobes in this fizzy number reminiscent of the 1980’s nightlife.

The final word from Free School being ‘Good People Reprise’ which characterizes euphoria and brings the albums journey to a dramatic denouement. Free School walk listeners through feelings of ecstasy, remind of self-worth and celebrate love in little over fourty-five minutes, one can only question their abilities during live shows! Their somewhat hidden online presence due to their ‘Free School’ identity mirrors their playfully masked appearance during live performances and only adds to the value of these unveiled ttreasures Rivals have some lessons to learn.