Free Time - Free Time [VINYL]

by Steve Reynolds Rating:7.5 Release Date:2013-07-15

A search on the web didn't throw up much information about Free Time. There was a metal band of the same name, but after looking through their photo portfolio and listening to this album there wasn't one correlation to match the two together. Formed out of Melbourne, Oz, in the summer of last year, their instant catchiness on this their self-titled debut belies a band with less than a year's experience on the clock. Deep-seated in mellifluous, shiny indie-pop, they are a band bathed in the delicate intimacy of Avi Buffalo and the upbeat vibes of Belle & Sebastian.

Dion Nania is the head-honcho of Free Time. Having split from Panel of Judges, he decamped to NYC and recruited for his now four-piece. Nania is also known for playing guitar with fellow antipodeans Scott & Charlene's Wedding.

Opener 'I Lost Again' is threadbare in its sound, personifying minimalism to the tenth degree, but that shouldn't deter you from its warmth and cuddliness. The sunniness doesn't stop there, as the song flows seamlessly into 'It's Alright', with Nania's calming vocal. "I think I only love you" is the ubiquitous cry throughout the song, and its jaunty, bright guitar chords sit perfectly alongside it.

There are vocal nods to David Berman (Silver Jews) and Steve Malkmus (Silver Jews/Pavement) at times, but Nania doesn't imbue the slacker gene to full-tilt. He has an effortless vocal gear-change on the meticulous 'Natures Cup', full of well-timed spaces, interspersed with sprays of clever, direct guitar interplay.Meanwhile, 'World Without Love' is simply charming with its tangle of perfectly lined strings and joyous woodwind.

The focus on this album is healthy and uplifting pop songs about love, held together by a taut and well-rehearsed band which is the glue of Free Time. The jump from song to song is seamless and the positive ebb and flow continues to coarse through the ears from start to finish. Original it may not be, but beguiling and charming, yes.

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