Release Date: Oct 16, 2015
Record label: Thrill Jockey
Genre(s): Electronic, Electronica, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Noise-Rock, Experimental Electro
Dan Friel's 2015 solo album Life (his second for Thrill Jockey) begins with a quiet, whistling lullaby, which is a bit of a headscratcher to anyone familiar with his brand of jagged, noisy electronic music. As it turns out, this is the first album Friel has made since becoming a father. This puts his work into a new perspective, as the aggressive yet colorful and energetic tone always present throughout his work now turns out to celebrate life in a different way than before.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. Dan Friel's solo work has followed a trajectory similar to that of his former band, the melodic noise rock band Parts & Labor, in that it started out experimental and rough around the edges, but gradually gained a greater sense of melody and structure as time passed, all without sacrificing what has made it so interesting from the beginning. In Friel's case, he traded in their comparatively conventional "rock" sound in favor of shrill electronic music layered in fried and blown-out electronics, squealing guitars, and dense thundering beats wired together by an almost child-like sense of melody, arguably reaching his peak on 2013's excellent tuneful and equally noisy Folklore.
Parts & Labor were quietly one of New York’s most original post-hardcore acts during the 2000s, a not-labored-at-all fusion of parts that made for a grand, jagged sum: explosive drumming fit for a Melt-Banana split, squealing electronics that fit quixotically onto a melodic grid, and dryly distant singing from two guys. They occasionally harmonized; somehow the friendlier their melodies got, the weirder the synthesis was. Who else sounded like this? Hanging it up for good in 2012 after ten years, Dan Friel split with his P&L songwriting partner B.J.
The sound Dan Friel has created is so uniquely specific, it's easy to oversimplify: distorted nursery-rhyme melodies over cracked drum-machine beats. But dig just a little below the surface and there's a lot more going on. At various points Friel evokes noise, industrial, punk crossed with techno, video games, even jazz. On Life, his fourth full-length, he covers that range more thoroughly than ever, which perhaps explains the album's all-encompassing title.
Instrumental music often benefits from the lack of context that comes from the absence of lyrics. Listeners of all kinds of music infuse their chosen soundtracks with their own personal memories and emotions, but leaving words out of the equation puts broader interpretive authority into the hands of the audience. Then there are times, as is the case with Dan Friel’s latest, Life, where a little bit of context helps to expose the gentler meaning beneath the rough, bracing surface.
As the former vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist for Brooklyn noise rock band Parts & Labor, Dan Friel's approach to electronic-based music usually comes from the genre's textural possibilities rather than its oft-travelled sonic avenues. On his third full-length, the dense and adventurous Life, Friel has looked beyond aural cues, finding inspiration in his new role as a father, as tracks like "Lullaby (For Wolf)," "Rattler" and "Sleep Deprivation," although just as noisy and biting as ever, represent a new outlook for his songwriting style.Over the album's dozen instrumentals, Friel allows the screeching guitar sound and bass on tracks like "Lungs" and "Bender" to drive the melody, while the almost anthemic "Life (Pt. 1)," "Life (Pt.
Music isn’t really my foremost geekish specialty, y’know. Even today, I could tell ya how to build a strong Pokémon team before I could wax on all the great indie bands of the Noughties. But, when you think about it, pop songwriters and video game music composers strive for similar goals. They want catch your ear; they want to write hooks that you’ll hum to yourself without even thinking about it; they want their songs to still excite and placate you even after the umpteenth time you’ve heard them.
Dan Friel — Life (Thrill Jockey)Dan Friel’s solo albums have always had a childlike glee, a bubble of unpremeditated joy that rises out of a murk of keyboard distortion and rough rhythms to fizz and burst on the surface. This third full-length, written around the birth of his first son, takes that bouncy castle exuberance to even greater lengths, channeling the euphoria of sleep-short early parenthood into woozy, optimistic grooves.Friel made his mark, first, in the deafening tunefulness of Parts & Labor, and his melodies here, have that same weird, intoxicating mix of noise-boy dissolution and anthemry. Without the vocals, he lets a vintage Yamaha Portasound carry the tunes.