In making ‘Freedom’, Amen Dunes shifts from whimsical guitars and warbly melancholic vocals to a darker electronic sound. Frontman Damen McMahon calls upon his usual star-studded collaborators; drummer Parker Kindred (Antony & The Johnsons, Jeff Buckley), Chris Coady (Beach House) and let them work their magic in Electric Lady Studios. Three years later, the resulting LP is an ode to coming-of-age and understanding oneself despite rigid societal expectations of masculinity. Or, as McMahon calls it, “mythical heroic maleness”. I guess this one’s for the intellectually minded music fan.
Vinyl LP £17.49 SBR195LP
Black vinyl LP on Sacred Bones.
- Includes download code
CD £6.99 SBR195CD
CD on Sacred Bones.
Limited Vinyl LP £18.49 SBR195LPC2
Limited edition, navy blue coloured vinyl LP on Sacred Bones.
- Coloured vinyl
- Limited edition
- Includes download code
9/10 Greg 14th January 2019
The first words on this album, a spoken word sample of a child saying “This is your time. Their time is done. It’s over…” are as bold as they come, because it sums up Damon McMahon, aka Amen Dunes’ fourth album ‘Freedom’, as he deals with childhood, seizing opportunities and coming of age experiences through eleven songs that are as simple and complex as the album title. While his previous releases were drenched in mysterious reverb, here everything sounds much clearer, with emphasis on the clarity of McMahon’s distinct, slurring vocal delivery as though he wants to send his message across loud and clear. After a 50-second intro, the album opens with "Blue Rose," a swirling electronic-pop gem as sharp, insistent percussion and silvery chords orbits around McMahon's vocals that focuses on frayed familial relationships and the hope for reconciliation, grief and despair. “Time”, with its stark guitar lines, feathery drumming and hallow synths, creates a chilling atmosphere, while “Skipping School” is a darkly affectionate sound about McMahon’s connection with his father, while his warbled vocals and gentle, melancholic guitars unfolds over one another in a similar fashion. On “Miki Dora”, the music echoes The Velvet Underground with its drum rolls and muted guitar licks that ebbs and flows like the ocean waves as McMahon tells the story of the titular prolific surfer with an anti-hero persona. McMahon gets personal on “Believe” as the lyrics deals with the aftermath of McMahon’s mother being diagnosed with cancer, and the song’s choir of harmonies and synths makes his honest, contemplative lyrics come to life. The title track is both solemn and spiritual with such delicate guitar lines and graceful vocals that feels like he’s saying goodbye to someone dear. After four enchanting minutes, the song becomes upbeat, as though it’s some sort of reawakening., and it leads the way to the closing track “L.A.”, a song that moves from guitar ambiance to fractured electronics, transitioned by the same spoken word sample from the album’s intro. With its rich, atmospheric and compelling scale, ’Freedom’ is McMahon’s most complete and dynamic album to date, one where he lays his emotions bare, showing that when all feels lost, there’s still time to make it right.
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