Remember This

Free Element

Orchard, 2005

http://www.freeelement.com

REVIEW BY: Benny Balneg

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 03/29/2007

Mid-paced melodic alt-rock fell out of grace in the late ‘90s, the time when nu-metal conquered the airwaves. Some kind of flavor-of-the-month thing, I suppose (you know how fickle casual listeners get,) but alt-rock never really died. The influence of Smashing Pumpkins, Alice in Chains and Nirvana has left an indelible mark in the music of budding indie bands and disgruntled hipsters in their mid-to-late-20’s.

Now, it's unfair to say that Free Element, who exemplifies a penchant for alt-rock inspired hooks and melodies, falls in either category, although listening to Remember This and its songs charged with nostalgia feels like taking a trip down memory lane, albeit a bit hazy and surreal. But the band mixes ‘90s pop sensibilities with the robust, thick sound of modern rock, creating nuances from familiar grounds. bim_ad_daily_vault_print_250

“Walking Over” starts off with melodic guitar lines and solid rhythm work. The vocals of Andy Perry in the verse sounds a tad lethargic, especially during the low register. However, the band blasts its way during the chorus (especially with that damn infectious lick,) resembling the bluster and sing-along qualities of modern rock. The sound also benefits from the lush production of Al Hurschman.

“Daydream” is the song where everything comes together for the band. The melody produced by guitarists Dan Rose and Randy Roberts create mesmeric, if not dissonant, layers along with Perry's lucid vocal harmonies help the song live up to its namesake. The ditty also packs in a great drum performance by Jake Bayer.

However, the band wears its influences on their sleeves most of the time, such as with “Like I Should,” an upbeat pop-punk tune that seems to intentionally recall Fenix TX. Perry's nasal singing, as well as the riffing on “The Waterline,” recall the quality that today's rock music offers (read: emo). The band is still trying to get a grasp of its identity not only from its idols, but also from the scene that fostered it.

Aside from this, the band needs to work on certain aspects of its music if it wants to go to the next level. The skill and the know-how to craft interesting songs is there – check out “October,” a somber power ballad that is not bad by any stretch. However, the song shows the band's vulnerability to up the ante in its more heartfelt songs. Vocalist Perry seems unable to make that extra push in making the listeners care for the song, especially during the climax.

Regardless of the band's shortcomings, Remember This has some songs worth building on, and serves an important stepping stone that this promising band must keep in mind when making a conscious effort to grow as musicians.

Rating: C

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© 2007 Benny Balneg and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Orchard, and is used for informational purposes only.