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Taylor Swift
Freedom Child

The Script | Freedom Child

Label:  Columbia Records
Release Date: September 1, 2017
Rating:  4.0 out of 5
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August 30, 2017
By Alan Ho
 
In today's music world, in particular pop/rock, being gone for two years between new material or a new album is considered now a very long time.  Might as well be twenty years.  But for Irish pop/rockers The Script, going two years between new music was something the doctor ordered.  Their newest release Freedom Child is certainly well worth the wait.  These two years allowed the group to recharge, refresh and be able to observe and explore the trends going into music today. The end result is a generally refreshed sound adapting to today's norms in pop/rock, with a track or two that harken back to their roots but with the same powerful, relevant songwriting, the same structure and a whole lot of the soaring arena choruses the trio are well known for. 

The album opens with a big bang forward on the sonic refreshment with "No Man Is an Island," which could become the second single to be released out of Freedom Child. Danny O'Donaghue's vocals remain spectacular and hypnotic but the refreshed sound of the group is now of a catchy bass and synth-driven kind that actually complement O'Donaghue's vocals.  It is not comparatively overpowering and just the right amount of sound to go alongside a song whose refrain will have you beating your feet along to the catchy beat and get stuck in your head all day long.

"Rain" is the lead single off the album and showcases what the trio have learned in their two year absence. It certainly takes it place among the songs of the summer and will have you humming, singing along and tapping your feet to what is the most hynoptic beat you will hear so far this year (until Taylor Swift releases her new single and new album probably). Unlike past fare, "Rain" is definitely something you will hear and experience in the club and dance floors from a sonic perspective, but vocally it remains vintage Script with O'Donaghue's falsetto and subsequent soaring vocals in the chorus line.

"Arms Open" is classic The Script unlike the first two tracks that showcase the new sonic tone of the group as the trio opts for a more organic sound complete with the signature soaring chorus.  The song proves the group's awareness of any song in the album based on subject matter, this one more of an uplifting nature about people reaching out to other people in need.  "Arms Open" is now a very appropiate single in the wake of Houston and Hurricane Harvey. 

"Rock The World" and "Mad Love" continue the highly aware inspirational tone, with "Rock the World" more of an upbeat, uptempo arena banger and "Mad Love" comparatively airy for what ends up being more of a breakup song than anything else.  But in typical Script fashion, the theme is not readily apparent until the second or third listen.  "Deliverance" delivers one of the strongest tracks in the album from a sonic perspective; there is really no groundbreaking lyrically.  But again, the sound from this track is everything the trio wanted to deliver, they had indicated in past interviews that the only place where they hadn't gained any traction was the dance floor and even more so than Rain," "Deliverance" delivers them to the dance floor for the whole experience.

Now, let's get to "Divided States of America." Anyone outside the US will agree with the sheer commentary style of the song while those in the US will have a love it or hate it experience. It will also likely generate a lot of debate amongst its American fans, critics, radio stations and of course talking heads on news and politics. Danny O'Donaghue told the Irish Times:

          "We were in America when Trump's inaugaration was happening, and you couldn't walk down the street without
          seeing how divided America was.  The guy selling cigarettes could be a Democrat and the guy he's selling them to
          could be a Trump supporter.  We wrote with three or four different producers and writers, and some of them would
          leave the session to go to march.  It was all around us."

The crux of the song aside, "Divided States of America" is an extremely strong track and unlike anything The Script had done with any of their previous work.

"Love Not Lovers" is about as modern as The Script will get from both a sonic and lyrical standpoint. The song is fit for both the dance floor, Top 40 radio and belies the group's awareness of music trends. The first couple listens to "Love Not Lovers" elicited an initial reaction of "weakest song" in the album but after subsequent listens, the song grows on you and turns out to be solid.  It is heavily synthesized, save for the guitar strumming at the start and end of the piece and is layered on top of a common motif you hear in a lot of Top 40 songs these days.

"Make Up" is the song you want to listen to if you need a good old fashioned pop ballad and miss the old days when The Script were known for songs like "The Man Who Can't Be Moved" or "If You Ever Come Back."  "Make Up" proves the group have not forgotten where they came from and that even with the refreshed sound and a new sense lyrically, they still know how to make a good old fashioned pop ballad with none of the gloss and all the organicness. 

The final track after the intro is the title track itself.  "Freedom Child" is quite possibly a mashup of the entire album.  There's the relevant, inspirational and mood-lifting lyrics, the soaring leadup to the arena banger of a chorus, all wrapped up in more of the dancehall influence that permeates large chunks of the album.  And throw in some ivory ticking and again have this wonderful mashup of every style that has been touched on Freedom Child.  A satisfying end to the album.

Freedom Child
by no means is some sort of groundbreaking album for The Script, but it does offer a refreshed sound throughout save for 2 or 3 tracks that is more classic The Script and showcases that they still have the ability to make an organic pop/rock ballad and do it well.  While the new sound and lyrical sense works, there are some weak points like "Wonders" and "Eden" with the distracting and disjointed sonic tones or in "Written In The Scars," whose syncopated repetitions actially get irritating halfway through the piece.  "Divided States of America" may ultimately become a polarizing piece itself in the US, certainly to generate the kind of debate on a piece of music not heard in a long time amongst music fans, critics and yes, even political talking heads who may foist this piece to fit their narrative.  It is a solid return for The Script after two years, which in today's fast paced music world might as well be twenty years.  But hey, it is still well worth the wait.
Alan Ho is the co-founder, CEO and Chief Publisher/Webmaster of Musiqtone.com.  In between his IT guy duties in his day job, watching CW superhero shows, rooting for the Cubs and his alma mater Purdue, he manages to find time to review albums, make an infrequent sit-down in the Hot Seat and go cover a show or two.
Facebook Comments: Keep 'em clean folks!
 
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