Album Review: Angie – Free Agent

qudHyOn9JsyGhrFraU_ElV03-kp5m6M7leb-dk4TeZUAngie is one of the most productive legends in Australia – in the past year alone, she has showcased her debut full length film ‘Garish Hearts’, as well as a myriad of music videos, curated an art show for the Underbelly Arts Festival,  and has just unveiled a book publishing company which has already seen the publication of poems from herself and Beef Jerk’s Jack Lee. And with a few months to spare in 2015, Angie has released her new solo album, the follow up to 2013’s ‘Turning’.

‘Free Agent’ was written whilst Angie has been touring the world – from Memphis’ Gonerfest (the Mecca of garage rock), multiple European tours, a residency in Brazil, as well as criss-crossing Australia. That’s a lot of travel, and anyone who’s ever flown on Tiger Air or any international equivalent for longer than a half hour knows that these things can be brutal. There’s a lot of time spent cramped up in those soaring sardine cans, and Angie is obviously someone who doesn’t shy away from productivity, preferring to record her thoughts and processed during these lulling moments rather than let them slip away. As such, ‘Free Agent’ showcases Sydney’s favourite soul at her barest moments, as well as her strongest.

Angie is primarily known for her noise wreaking abilities, whether it be with the plethora of bands she’s headed (Circle Pit, Straight Arrows, Ruined Fortune etc.). Even her debut solo effort ‘Turning’ was a festival of dirgy feedback and songs raised on their haunches. ‘Free Agent’ explores a duality to Angie that’s never quite been revealed before. For example, “Ricky Street” reveals a mournful side, repeatedly asking “Where are you?” between plonking pianos and a rickety guitar whose rusty strings threaten to snap at any second. “Crocodile Tears” shows off her own incredible voice, albeit layered heavily underneath sprawling guitar. Encased here is a heartfelt track with an abandoned narrator, grieving through webs of noise that thicken as the song progresses. It’s the greatest song that Grace Slick never wrote.

That’s not to say that Angie has lost her ability to wreak havoc with songs that sound like they’ve been recorded through a wind tunnel, and have burst out through a PA stack that has been through several 13th Floor Elevators tours. Crackling, prickly and tough, songs like “Down for the Count” and “Paris Face” muscle through with a Royal Trux-esque pervasion of cool, roughhouse riffs plunging next to Angie’s signature puncturing vocal drone. “Out of Age” signifies the most skin-crawling moment of ‘Free Agent’, a crescendoing eruption of sounds and curdling guitar licks, brawling viciously to come out on top, but falling short to Angie’s strident vocals.

There are parts of ‘Free Agent’ that are powerful. There are parts that are desperate. There are parts that are flippant, and parts that are naked. Angie works from all angles, covering a range of styles with a sound that feels purely her own. ‘Free Agent’ remains another of her bombastic works, but it has also freed her from the tag of being just a rocker. Although she’s always experimented, it’s now become less subtle and more accessible, without losing the identity that she’s established over all her years behind art of some form or other. ‘Free Agent’ allows the public to get into the head of one of Australia’s most underrated stars, and what’s inside is a dichotomy of painful self-awareness and raw power.

‘Free Agent’ comes out Friday, September 4th through Rice Is Nice Records. Angie will be launching the record in Sydney on September 4th at Waywards in Newtown, with Skull & Dagger, Sex Tourists and more.

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