With their idiosyncratic, genre-hopping sound, avant-garde outfit Free Love are here to save pop music.
Formerly known as Happy Meals, Glasgow synthpop duo Lewis Cook and Suzi Rodden have quickly established themselves as one of Scotland’s most exciting acts. Both of their previous EPs, Apéro and Fruit Juice, were shining examples of psychedelic lofi pop — the former earning them a Scottish Album of the Year nomination — and now, under a new moniker, they’re back with new EP Luxury Hits. It’s at once a refinement and reinvention of their sound.
Let’s talk about that name change for a second. Bringing to mind ‘60s and ‘70s counterculture, it ushers in a sleeker, more cohesive direction for the pair — one that finds them reborn as celestial prophets. “Tomorrow could be heaven,” Rodden sings with the unsettling off-kilter confidence of a cult leader, “Utopia’s in sight”. Her alluring words ride a hypnotic synth line, demonstrating the Free Love doctrine of quixotic imagery and lustrous production.
Packed with ensnaring beats, Luxury Hits is a groovy fever dream. Acid-soaked “Pushing Too Hard” is note-perfect, blending Italo, house and disco, grounded by rapid-fire kicks and a stomping bassline. Rodden’s emotive vocals slip in and out of French as she sings about fanatical and unrequited love. Atop melting, prismatic synths, she ponders over reality itself on acid-soaked “Synchronicity”: “Like broken glass / The world reflects its faces to me”. There are moments of relative pathos to be found across the EP, but the music is at its best in these moments of vibrant hypnagogia.
As Free Love, Suzi Rodden and Lewis Cook are born again. Melting together analogue electronics and abstract lyricism, Luxury Hits is a forward-thinking throwback that sets itself apart with its refreshing weirdness. Cast off any notions of what pop music can and should be, and embrace the cult of Free Love.
15 November 2018