“Relax. Nothing is under control.” As soundbites go, few could be more appropriate than the main refrain of Under Control, given the current political climate. As Parliament tries to avoid collapsing like a house of cards and the financial big guns try to rescue us from the ruinous market collapse, could Adam Freeland be more accurate or relevant?
The message continues a theme begun in debut album Now And Them, where We Want Your Soul carried a tough message of how Big Brother was coming to get you. Cope picks up where that left off, but is a better record in almost every way.
Freeland has tightened up his songwriting, honed his production skills and found an even more relevant voice since that record. He’s also renounced the idea of album filler, common to many a dance music album after the impact of the first three tracks. Here the intensity is maintained throughout, whether in hard hitting instrumentals or surprisingly poignant and always relevant vocal tracks.
Perhaps most crucially, Freeland is now the name of a band rather than a one-man concern. While the music they make is still in keeping with Adam Freeland’s outlook and lean, punchy musical style, there has clearly been outside input.
As a result the record comfortably survives guest spots from unlikely sources, and none more so than a rollicking drum solo from Tommy Lee, who generates an impressive head of steam in Do You, while Devo vocalist Jerry Casale lends his tones to the epic Only A Fool (Can Die).
With this record Freeland move into all-male territory, so while it’s something of a shame to report there is no successor to Now And Them’s Supernatural Thing, there are some hard hitting songs for new permanent vocalist Kurt Baumann to get his tonsils around.
This is, therefore, a searing, no holds barred album, uncompromising in its delivery and unstinting in its musical language. Cope doesn’t let up for a second, and even when the tempo drops, as it does in the strangely soothing Silent Speaking, the beats remain rock solid.
What this record does feel like is a modern counterpart to The Prodigy‘s third album The Fat Of The Land. It’s as if Freeland have been on the Atkins Diet and returned for a fight – and in the process managed to sound more relevant than the Prodigy themselves. Talk about an album for our times.