With the nature of tips we’ve received on Freelance Whales — both from the wide array of tipster-types (industry kids, concert goers, streetwalkers catching them playing on a corner) and the neighborhood they all inhabit (Williamsburg) — we sorta figured this band would fall squarely into the prevailing washed out/hypnagogic fuzzbucket hazed-pop thing before having heard a note. After seeing ‘em at a loft party and spending some time with their self-released debut, it’s really nice to hear that they don’t fall there at all. Turns out FW are way out of step with the dominant trend of ’09, and more in line with what the non-Gang Of Four appropriating wing of indie music was fixated on a few years ago: sounds that are acoustic and precious, boldly baring bespectacled sensitivity and couching touching melodies in delicate instrumentation: everything from guitars, banjos, tambourines, harmonium, and glockenspiels to yes the occasional keyboard and laptop assist.
It’s not to say Freelance Whales are a bygone-trend retread, or that they’re a cold fish in a chillwave: in fact there’s palpable warmth and tactful touch that crackles throughout their strongest tunes’ group chants, harmonies, occasional computer beats and baroque-pop arrangements that should prove irresistible to people with soft spots for the likes of Sufjan, Ra Ra Riot, Postal Service, and on. Freelance Whales don’t sound like any of those artists outright, but they’re linked in their strength at expressing fragility, and at working out a sentimental but memorable melody. See if this pair from their debut Weathervanes gets under your skin after a few spins. (That’s a photo from the loft party, one that got a little notice in other corners of the internet.)
The band’s self-released debut Weathervanes is available now. You can hear more, including the lovely electro-emo “Starring” and the album-closing “The Great Estates” at their MySpace. You can see them at a rock club, loft party, or subway stop near you. If near you is Brooklyn.