New York’s Amen Dunes are finally about to return with Freedom, their first full-length in almost four years. It’s the long-awaited followup to 2014’s Love — an album that engendered a fervent cult following — and the group has already given fans a few reasons to expect that Freedom could live up the long shadow cast by its predecessor. First, there was the languid, wandering lead single “Miki Dora.” Later, we heard “Blue Rose,” which married a mellowed ’70s rock groove with light synth textures, and the patient, climactic epic “Believe.” And today, the rest of Freedome is out in the world.
It’s a rich album that rewards taking your time to wade into it. Aesthetically, Freedom mostly settles into a lightly psychedelic rock strain that can somehow sound swampy and urbane at the same time. Much of it is the sound of smoke tendrils curling above a city street deep into a summer night spent inside your own head, punctured by chance encounters on a listless journey. But it’s also not as diffuse as that might suggest, with Damon McMahon’s often-conversational but expressive vocals lending the whole proceedings some human gravity as he grapples with heavy topics like religious imagery, archetypes of masculinity, or other conflicts within contemporary society.
Freedom can be an insular experience, best-suited for solo walks and losing yourself in all its humid rhythms and guitar lines. Overall, it’s one of the more unique rock albums of this young year, and whether you’re already an Amen Dunes fanatic or whether their recent singles caught your ear, it’s worth checking out in full. You can do that now over at NPR.
Freedom is out 3/30 on Sacred Bones.