While Daniel Romano’s album cover for Finally Free might suggest pure party energy, there’s a sorrow to this music that makes it stick with you. With a sound that’s as much 70s folk as it is classic rock, Romano grabs your attention and brings out the emotions to take it beyond pastiche. Though Romano ends up lost behind his aesthetics at times, his sense of passion and sonic know-how are a force not to be ignored.
So much desperation and worried energy fill “Empty Husk” as Romano begins on one of his most heartfelt and pained notes. When all this discontent can’t be contained anymore, the song breaks into a rocking final so chaotic you’ll be swept up in the change of pace. “All The Reaching Trims” is delightfully bouncy with its guitars, to give Romano’s vocals a lively space to boom out and get weird at times. Even without distinct chorus-like moments, the constant drive of the track holds your attention like a flame. There’s a much lighter note however to “The Long Mirror Of Time” as the record looks to vintage blues with the bright organs to match and a unique story to make it new again. Though the track’s lack of sharp moments does leave it a little too open, the feeling of this record is worth the occasionally simple track.
With the most traditional arrangements and instruments of the record, “Celestial Mains” actually achieves a strange level of psychedelic wonder within its accordion-driven lark. AS you follow the swaying rhythms and Romano’s own swirling vocal delivery, the song has this old-school sense of grandeur within it. Despite a handful of samey tracks, Romano’s true strength here is an ability to pull you fully into a world and spirit that turns something like “Between The Blades Of Grass” into a trip. Though this doesn’t help “Rhythmic Blood” in its painfully aimless progressions, it colours every bit of the track’s background. Though it takes the looping weaknesses of the records a touch too far, the percussive sound of this song is addictive and then some.
There’s a lot of raw talent Romano shows off on this record, as he brings out a sense of time and place with ease, and is often spinning strong riffs and occasionally moments as well. As you listen the long-winded crooning of something like “Have You Arrival” however, it’s clear Romano isn’t always the tightest at bringing everything together. His exploration of more traditional styles is as helpful as it is hurtful too, as he ends up lost at times or too deep into something borderline bard-like on tracks like “Gleaming Sects Of Aniram.” Admittedly however, he does send things out on an exciting and dynamically rich note on “There’s Beauty In The Vibrant Form.” to prove his passion trumps everything else.
Words by Owen Maxwell