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Friday, February 3, 2023

Review: Freedumb – Social Hangover

Label: Fucking North Pole Records

Date: October 7th, 2022

My affection towards melodic punk rock is well documented on these pages and beyond. Most of it stems from the fact that the genre offers a fairly straight-forward approach, at least in strict musical regard, so that you can put much more focus on the message they deliver. Plus, the catchiness allows you to soak it up more effectively, repeating it in your head for days on end.

So, picking up the new record from the Norwegians Freedumb was a no-brainer. After all, they’re approaching the full two decades of existence, so there shouldn’t be any massive surprise from such an experienced horde from the north.

However, with age there seems to come wisdom, reflection and a somewhat deeper understanding of life and all of its ups and downs. With that in mind, Freedumb has laid down their brand new record. Well, perhaps it wasn’t so much in their mind, as they simply let the inspiration do its magic and “Social Hangover” is what came out.

Now, don’t get me wrong. The Norwegian trio is still massively melodic and that’s where the foundation to their creation lays. At the same time, these boys are no teenagers anymore, so the experience pours in and their melodies take on a darker shade. Hence, there are a whole lot of differing influences that color “Social Hangover”. You can forget the whole sunny Californian scene. Freedumb comes from the cold north and it reflects in their music and topics. It often comes out as bleak, negative and pretty gloomy altogether. At those moments the Norwegians slide down into post-punk. But fear not, they do not leave their basis uncovered. Similar to their excursions to the murky side of hardcore, which retains the melodic nuances.

Freedumb uses a few other sources of inspiration to complete the “Social Hangover” puzzle. Even some unexpected, like a brief descent into post black metal which, truth be told, sounds like they forgot themselves for a moment and let one slip by. Still, even on that occasion, the band kept their identity and went ahead as if nothing happened. The band members’ musical aspirations are many and that is heard throughout, so the task of picking out the precise band names to reference could end up being a long and dull task.

Leaving their genre-swapping trickery aside, the issue I have with Freedumb’s new record is the apparent lack of creative ingenuity. It’s like they haven’t figured out the way to be adults in the world of melodic punk rock largely dominated by teenagers. With that I’m referring to the gaping void in the epic catchy tune department. Now, that wouldn’t be so obvious had it not been for “Get Away”, which closes the record as a perfect choice for the first single, the leader of what would be… A dumbed down, typical OC teenage punk. The track in question is absolutely the simplest, the most direct and straight-forward one of the bunch. Showing the way to what Freedumb can do, if only they could find the middle ground between the adulthood that brought seriousness and experience, and that kid in them that still believes there’s fun to be had in this world.

But still, “Social Hangover” is a commendable effort by the Norwegians. I’m sure the punks will embrace both the maturity and the attempt at reliving the youth.