The music of Freelance Whales has an immediate warmth and familiarity that’s either comforting or derivative, depending on your perspective. You could mistake them for Postal Service from across the room, what with the sweet, earnest alto vocals of front man Judah Dadone, but the instrumentation isn’t electronic. Rather, there’s a huge array of guitars, banjos, xylophones, organs, accordions, and … is that a glockenspiel? The melodies and song structure are Arcade Fire-ish indie drama, but there’s a ramshackle, homemade, hand-clappy communalism to the thing that’s reminiscent of Sufjan Stevens, or at least of New York City subway buskers (which these guys were for a while).
It’s not particularly challenging or groundbreaking, but it’s … nice. And sometimes you just need nice records that make you feel good. Especially when you cover the U.S. Senate all day. That said, the teddy-bear vibe of the record can get cloying — not Owl City cloying, but on the sickly-sweet end of things. If I were their producer I’d push them to use a bit more muscle on the next record.
All in all, Weathervanes is a promising debut. This song is called “We Could Be Friends.