Lots of bands have one member who stands out above the others. Not a lot of bands have four members who are so awesome at what they do that the odds that they all met and formed a band seem astronomically low. This is the case with Calgary natives Free the Cynics. These guys are freaking beauties. Rich Paxton is the singer/mic stand abuser, Eric Juergens plays guitar and has majestic hair, Brad Wedekind plays bass and makes monumental bass faces, Joey DeCosse plays drums and is a Questlove ‘fro impressionist. I didn’t make any of that up by the way, it’s all on the front page of their website.
Post-Iconica is sort of a mashup between Modest Mouse and Light Grenades-era Incubus. Every song moves at an upbeat pace, and each of the individual lines swim in and around each other like a school of fish. Juergens sprinkles falling stars with his licks, and every now and again gets just heavy enough to add a little menace to the magic. “Wine and Debris” is a perfect example of this, with its watery intro line building through atmospheric soundscapes before ending with a short burst of intensity. Wedekind’s muddy basslines add sublime harmonies that both support and compliment the compositions. DeCosse keeps things brisk and never quite lets any moment settle, and the songs are better for it. Paxton has an instantly unique and recognizable yelp and sings with the years and wisdom of someone much older than himself. The lyrics are pretty good too. Lead single “High at Work,” with its “Sunday Bloody Sunday”-esque guitar line, turns its silly subject matter into an honest to goodness anthem.
My only complaint with this record is that it’s honestly too short, I wanted to hear more. All the songs are so catchy, every listen brings something more, and I really feel like Free the Cynics might have had one or two more in them. That’s just me being nit-picky though. This is a really great record and I’m happy to have found a contender for my end of the year top ten list this late in the game.
Written by Syd Ghan
*edited bv Kate Erickson