Philadelphia’s Free Energy introduced themselves with 2010’s Stuck On Nothing (QRO review), which began with the entirely non-ironic use of cowbell, pointing to the earnest performing of straight-from-the-seventies rock ‘n’ roll. Well, sophomore release Love Sign has cowbell come in second on opener “Electric Fever”, but it’s still cowbell, and Free Energy is still in love with the seventies. More importantly, despite its cheesiness, it still works.
There should be a warning label on Love Sign, ‘Hipster sarcasm need not apply’, but one supposes that naming their album ‘Love Sign’ kind of accomplishes that. From start to finish, Love is an unabashedly up-rock record, with all the cheesiness songs like “Girls Want Rock”, “Dance All Night”, “Hold You Close”, and “True Love” implies. Yet only the most hater of hipsters couldn’t enjoy it – the enjoyment Free Energy has in their music is infectious, “Electric Fever” on down. “Turn in on and turn it up,” as singer Paul Sprangers says with energy. There are some sadder songs (“Dance All Night”, “Hey Tonight”), and even a venture into the nighttime eighties (“True Love”), but they’re all done with the same unashamed attitude.
Now, not every track on Love Sign overcomes itself – “True Love” is particularly cheesy, and “Backscratcher” is too simple to square the circle – but the sheer positive energy from Free Energy, combined with a style that was so popular for a good reason, is more than enough.