Northern Transmissions review of 'Beyond XXXL' by Freak Heat Waves

Telephone Explosion Records

8.5/10

Freak Heat Waves

Beyond XXXL

Though style shouldn’t replace substance, there’s a lot to be said for a style that can create a substance of its own. For their most enigmatic record to date, Freak Heat Waves hold nothing back with their listeners for an experience that really gets aggressive. While it might not be for everyone, this dirty sounding album is one that you’ll be as likely to dance to as work out your negative energy to.

The grooves hit with a twisted swath of energy of “Self Vortex” as distortion and horn sounds create a wash of energy that immediately engulfs you in its crushing energy. As its harmonies rise, listeners are swarmed with so many different melodies that you’ll be at the end of the song before you notice you’ve yet to hit a chorus. Alternatively “Soothing Limbo” oozes out in a cool and subversive dance energy, that seems to go on endlessly without ever needing to stop. Like “Self Vortex” the song punches onwards with growing tension and instrumentation to make it feel like it’s going to become uncontrollably dense.

“Prime Time Slime” leans right into its smoky energy to take the band’s bass-driven energy into a more haunting interlude. By taking a more bite-sized approach in this case, each drum and synth presents a little more character and gives the song a sense of place. The grime that drenches “Moved You Right” is filthy and intoxicating, and makes the song almost unbearably heavy at times. As they focus their energy into a pointed sound on this track, they make their beats feel like an extension of the overall aesthetic, rather than just in-service to it.

This hits with more of a relaxing energy on “Pushin’ Beyond” as the synths sway from tense to soothing at a moment’s notice. In their heavy dose of reverb and oppressive energy, Freak Heat Waves make a sound and energy that really make their music feel completely of its own life. Even as “Sell A Line” beats aggressively with a slow-rocking grunge energy, they make it as crusty as possible to feel unlike anything else. Though the track may not be the most addictive listen on the album, its bright energy stands out in the overall scheme of the record.

“Bad Mutation” feels the most immersed in the aesthetic, which makes its laidback writing feel less suited to the sound. Despite a totally weird and atypical listen, the song ends up feeling dull in comparison to some of the charged offerings of the record. As they slow things down for a little more 80’s energy on “Subliminal Appeal” they make their simple pronunciation a facet of their instrumentation. Though it takes a similarly relaxed approach, it really works because of the ways it forces listeners into the sound.

“I Can’t Tell” lets its unusual grooves really step up for the samey feels it carries, and lets some of the creepy and oozing sounds really give it the most character. The aggressive and blaring electronics of “Toxic Talk Show” are a perfectly overbearing interlude, and never cease in their pointed barrage. As the album draws to a close in the warped and demented reality of “In The Dip of the Night,” Freak Heat Waves finally make sense of their slowed-down energy to close the album in a wash of strange vocals.

Words by Owen Maxwell