Fresh, young talent defined 2019’s music scene. While the old heads are still relevant, acts like Tyler, the Creator, Anderson .Paak, JID, and DaBaby inserted electric energy into the final year of the decade.
And closing the year with a surefire bang is the Free Nationals, a four-piece funk/soul/R&B band with a flair for creativity and experiment. They’ve gained popularity due to constant collaboration with .Paak, and set themselves apart as an impressively talented group with their debut album, “Free Nationals.”
The album stands at 12 tracks and 43 minutes, a humble chunk for their stellar ability. But the modest run-time makes every second count. The group pre-released several singles, with big names like Mac Miller, Kali Uchis, Daniel Caesar, Syd, JID, and many others — each coming song building on the last’s momentum, creating a narrative that the Free Nationals’ debut wasn’t going to be wasting any time.
And my goodness did they prove themselves. The album smoothly transitions from introspective tracks like “Eternal Light” and “Apartment,” featuring singers Chronixx and Benny Sings, respectively, to the funk jam “Lester Diamond.”
The latter track is a whirlwind, one that would rock a dance floor and a Mario Kart run on Rainbow Road with a similar effect. It’s Baby Peach catapulting into first place, standing on her bike and dancing after securing first place. “Lester Diamond” is my favorite track on the album because the group doesn’t utilize any features — this one might not carry the density and eye-popping technical skill of other tracks, but its appeal rather comes with the frenetic fun of a night out in the city. It stands 12th out of 13 tracks, so make sure not to miss out.
The group’s ability to swim from up and down-tempo tracks is impressive. Characterizing this album as a certain genre or style of music is difficult because they simply don’t tie themselves down to any tenets of a certain genre. They’re a golden retriever off the leash in a beautiful grassy field, bounding from sniffing other dogs’ butts to sprinting tens of yards at a time, to lying down with a cheek-to-cheek grin, with their tongues dangling and tails wagging.
Simply put, this album is entertaining and is reliable for a variety of situations. Every listen further unfolds the fun. Give Free Nationals and their self-titled debut a chance — you won’t regret it.