Difficult forth album from a maturing band who write clever tunes. It's a good album but I'm left wanting something that isn't there from a band I really admire.
'Leaving My Empire' is the forth album from Fred who are one of Ireland's best live bands. Much of the 2008 album 'Go God Go' was of the highest quality and brought them to Canada and increased their worldwide fan-base. After a bit of a hiatus they recorded the album with Howard Bilerman in Montreal. The breakthrough to the next level just didn't happen with Fred and I don't think 'Leaving My Empire' will move the band forward because in the current music industry, this album compares unfavourably with their contemporaries.
I'd urge anyone interested in the album to begin in reverse because the album finisher 'We Are The City Now' is the best track on the album with a fantastic sing-a-long chorus. The other highlights for me are the funky 'Trial by Fire', the album opener 'If Not Now When' and Elvis Costello-esque 'Villains' sung by the bassist.
The vocals on the album bother me. With the radio hits from 'Go God Go' the vocals were fine and there were a few tracks including backing vocals. On 'Leaving My Empire' the vocals duties rest on lead single Joseph with that one exception in 'Villains' mentioned above. The vocals don't encourage multiple listens and I'm often moved to press skip to move on from the weaker tracks like 'Somewhere Else' and 'As You See'.
'Leaving My Empire' has some good moments but in general it's one of the worst albums I'm likely to review this year and I can't see how Fred will make it to the next stage up from Whelans/Workmans Club etc. This is such a pitty as I've seen Fred play a number of times and the band is one of my favourites. If they do a 'Best of Fred' it'll be jammed full of good tunes however on the basis of this album there probably won't be much demand for it.
Fred - Leaving My Empire [6 out of 12]
I seen this picture on the band's Facebook page and I couldn't resist putting in on here:
Mon 16th May Belfast Black Box Theatre 8pm £7
Thurs 19th May Dublin Whelans 8pm €14.50
Fri 20th May Waterford Forum Theatre 8pm €10
Sat 21st May Cork Cork Opera House 8pm €19
Thurs 26th May Galway Town Hall Theatre 7.30pm €14
Fri 27th May Limerick Belltable Theatre 7pm €12
Wed 1st June Wexford Wexford Arts Centre 8pm €15
Thurs 2nd June Dundalk The Spirit Store 8pm €10
Fri 3rd June Monaghan Flat Lake Festival
Sun 5th June Skibbereen Cork X South West
Sun 26th June Bundoran Sea Sessions
Listen to the album:
Leaving My Empire by fredtheband