Album review: Freelance Whales - 'Weathervanes' (Colombia/Mom+Pop)

The Owl City it's ok to like go in for the krill with a dreamy, enigmatic and beautiful debut

Album review: Freelance Whales - 'Weathervanes' (Colombia/Mom+Pop)

7 / 10 Christopher Nolan’s movie Inception has baffled its way to worldwide obsession by taking place in the realm of the dreamscape. It’s also tripled its box office receipts because it takes that many viewings for anyone to understand what the devil is going on. You suspect that if Leo DiCaprio’s ‘extractor’ Don Cobb were to enter the dreams of Freelance WhalesJudah Dadone he’d be as outfoxed as global cinema audiences. The singer with the Queens-based blog darlings crafted ‘Weathervanes’ through the unlikely process of dream-journaling. We don’t know if Dadone’s yet achieved his goal of lucid dreaming, but at least he’s created one of the loveliest indie records of the year.

Trying to puzzle out the meaning of these songs will only lead to confusion. It’s better to just languish in the bizarre invention of his language; the contorted loneliness of an “icebox heart”. The ketamine arousal of a girl in “pixellated fishnets”. The sort-of confession, on ‘Starring’, that “this is me starring in a stranger’s nightmare”.

The band have created a sumptuous backdrop, too, for these linguistic enigmas. US indie has taken a turn for the psychedelic with Local Natives and Yeasayer, and Wavves and Best Coast have revived the cult of the slacker. But Freelance Whales take vibing out to a new level of horizontal altogether. The whole thing wafts along in a pastel anasthaesia, Dadone’s vocals rubbing against barely-there songs crafted with shards of synth, glockenspiel and harmonium. Conversely, the only times ‘Weathervanes’ descends into twee is where it tries too hard to be noticed. The loveliest moments, like ‘Ghosting’, are so ambient they could sit as comfortably on a yoga video as on a blog. It should be disgusting and hippy and yet it’s beautiful.

Perhaps that’s why it’s taken so long to seep out over here; wafting over six months after the US with a leg-up from a major label, it seems curiously cute and old-fashioned, something too innocent for this modern world. Something, in fact, a lot like a dream.

Dan Martin

Click here to get your copy of Freelance Whales' 'Weathervanes' from the Rough Trade shop.

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