Louisville, KY is a complicated place. It's about 2500 miles from the ocean, yet for some reason many of its bands harbor a fascination with the sea and ocean-going vessels. It's countrified, as you might expect from the state that gave us bluegrass (although technically that was created in Indiana) and Jack Daniels, yet it boasts an impressive list of highly technical math rock bands and some of the most conceptual indie/folk of the last 100 years.
Louisville's a complicated place - the perfect place to tackle complicated subject matter from.Being a man in the 21st century is also complicated. Traditional masculine roles have all but disappeared, all while many masculine traits have fallen under laser-beam scrutiny thanks to the sins of the patriarchy. You're not likely to hear anyone boasting "I'm a man!" too loudly in a lot of places, and the ones that are tend to be neck-beard sporting wanna-be Alpha Male MRAs living in their parents’ basement.
For those of us identifying as a male/man/masculine, it can be tough to take pride in who you are and what you do. We have the instinct to protect those around us, while often being unable to do so, or the urge to stand loud and proud, which others often interpret as trying to put them down.
It's a tough situation, with no easy answers, making for an interesting underpinning for FWAB, by Louisville's Freddie Was A Boxer - a concept album roughly rotating around the life of a fictional boxer, the titular Freddie.
Ultimately, it doesn't matter that Freddie was a boxer, or even a man for that matter. It's just a loose theme for the band to explore some of these themes of being a human in the 21st century, through the lens of looking at one particular human being.
Freddie Was A Boxer's music is appropriately complex to match this nuanced subject matter. Flying, soaring electric guitar solos match ringing acoustic chords, like a traditional folk band getting together with a powerful, polished post-rock band. The events are given an authentic country feel with some gorgeous fiddle, a particularly fine touch, all of which is given a breakneck momentum via precise polyrhythms.
Although it's quite individualistic and unique, Freddie Was A Boxer is in line with many of Louisville's most influential bands, particularly Slint, Rodan, Bonnie "Prince" Billy and Rachel's. Intimate chamber music is amped up with muscular guitars, but never gets too beefcake or metal, via deft guitar harmonics and literary lyrics.
It's like being a man, in the 21st century. It's not enough to be tough and strong (both of which Freddie Was A Boxer is, in spades), but you need to be smart and sensitive, and have good taste, which FWAB is, as well.
A staggering, stunning debut from an ambitious outfit. Highly recommended!
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