3rd LP from Freak Genes, they make cleverly deranged punk music for freaks, by freaks. Whether it's in their genes or acquired from years of dysfunctional ideas gone awry playing in bands, this album is a synth in your face.
For their third LP, Freak Genes have unearthed 12 more sort-of-pop sort-of-not songs for your ears to enjoy. Making use of a synthesiser found in a skip and a guitar that won’t stay in tune, III is garage rock meets Gary Numan. There are some hit tracks, weird stuff and almost intentional accidents. If you like making functional use of dysfunctional ideas, this is for you…and if you love DAF, The Units, Lodger-era Bowie, 154-style Wire or The Flying Lizards then so much the better.
Freak Genes III was made by Charlie Murphy (Red Cords) and Andrew Anderson (Hipshakes / Proto Idiot) and mixed/mastered/made good by Mikey Young. Strictly not for norms.
"The always wonderful Freak Genes are back with what is already their third album in 20 months. On Qwak Qwak, you could hear Andrew and Charlie flirting with electronic instrumentation. III (out on Drunken Sailor Records) finds them all-in on synth-pop. Think more 154 era Wire, less Pink Flag. That's quite a leap for inside of two years, but in my business we call that a "natural progression" (Wire themselves did the same thing!). Everything that was charming, wonderfully weird, playfully non-conforming, and non-conventionally hooky about the duo's first two albums remains fully in tact. Perhaps the more cohesive synth-pop sound makes this particular album feel less all over the place. But I can assure you that it is still somewhat all over the place! The one-sheet promises "garage rock meets Gary Numan", and tracks like "Get Ready To Go" and "Strange Light" deliver exactly that. You can pick up the influences immediately yet still recognize distinct qualities of these guys' other bands. They are never afraid to experiment, but they always come back to writing memorable tunes with hooks. Meanwhile songs such as "Breach" and "Now It's Done" demonstrate that even synth pop era Freak Genes have not totally left post-punk behind. And if your favorite part of every Freak Genes album is coming across a song that makes you go "I don't know what the hell this is, but I sure like it!", "Stitches" and "Close Up" are oddball tracks that you will surely enjoy. There will never be such a thing as two Freak Genes songs that sound the same. Is it just me, or could "Nothing In Between Us" pass for one of The Cure's "poppy" songs?!
I can't fully put my finger on what delights me so much about Freak Genes. I think it's that they've made me fall in love with post-punk and new wave again. This was music I grew up on, yet I've been mostly lukewarm on its modern adherents. Charlie and Andrew take those influences and actually have fun with them. Even if there's a dark turn or two on III, it remains a joyful musical creation that's an absolute pleasure to listen to. Originally inspired by the idea of recording misfit songs, Freak Genes have become a misfit band (and that's a lower case "misfit"....these guys are probably 20 albums away from attempting horror punk). And I hope that's what they continue to be forever."
Fast and Louder blog.
Our take: First we had two records in a row with Yecatl Peña artwork, now we have two bands in a row with the word “freak” in their name. Am I seeing double? Anyway, back to the task at hand: writing about this new LP from Freak Genes. While this is the band’s third LP it’s the first time I’ve heard them and I’m quite impressed! The label’s description made me think this would be cold, dour synthetic pop music a la Wire’s 154 or David Bowie’s Lodger, but honestly I don’t hear either of those things very much on III. What I hear is a songwriting style that resembles what Jay Reatard was doing at the end of his career, when he injected a heaping helping of bright, New Zealand-style pop into his brooding garage-punk. “Strange Light” even sounds suspiciously like “Hammer I Miss You,” one of Jay’s most underrated tracks. Not that Freak Genes are a rip-off; I also hear bits that remind me of Devo (especially the Freedom of Choice-esque ”Breach”) and the whole SoCal drum machine punk thing (S.B.F., Race Car, etc.). The band is adept, adventurous, and great at writing catchy, fun, and memorable songs, and if you find the aforementioned references intriguing I recommend checking them out.