Dance music is often presented as an escape from the everyday, but Fred again… treats it more like an album on Actual Life 3 (January 1 – September 9, 2022), his third reality-based album in 18 months. Like its predecessors, Real Life (April 14 – December 17, 2020) and Actual Life 2 (February 2 – October 15, 2021)29-year-old Frederick-born hitmaker John Philip Gibson collects voice notes from friends, Instagram videos and snippets of important records from his life, offering (supposedly) personal insight into the whereabouts of a high-profile musician level /songwriter/collaborator of Ed Sheeran.
Diaristic writing is an unusual approach to house music, a style that tends to eschew the everyday in favor of dreaming of promised lands. It worked again for Fred.. on “Marea (We’ve Lost Dancing)”, a 2021 single that sampled a conversation with the Blessed Virgin about the devastating impact of COVID-19 on the dance industry. dance music, turning its dark reflections into an anthem that comforted during shutdowns and fueled elation when clubs reopened. On real life 3source material includes a live recording of 070 Shake’s “Nice to Have”, which Fred says is his most streamed song of the year (on “Danielle (Smile on My Face)”), and her friend Delilah Montagu singing his song “Lost Keys” on Instagram (on “Delilah (Pull Me Out Of This)”).
The backstory of the album is far more remarkable than the results. Fred is an extremely capable producer: his drums, drizzled with a dash of British garage, swing and hit as they should; his piano melodies are robust with the requisite dash of tenderness; and everything radiates an expensive shine. But there’s nothing jarring about his music, nothing to make you sit up and wonder how the hell he shot this stopped. In terms of sound and style, there’s nothing on this record that Disclosure didn’t do ten years ago – or MJ Cole 10 years before that. “Delilah (Pull Me Out of This)” may well feature a vocal pulled from a friend’s Instagram video but, beyond a slightly degraded sound quality, there’s little to set it apart from a million other vocal fragments throughout the history of dance music. Likewise, it’s good to know that Fred loves 70 Shake’s “Nice to Have,” but so do the millions of people who listened to it on Spotify.
What makes this all the more frustrating is that Fred again…is, by all accounts, a very interesting musician. He’s sung for Brian Eno, made a collaborative mixtape with drill star Headie One, and does ambient sketches on the fly when he can’t find the right track to listen to. But if these personal quirks enter Fred’s music again… they are not present here. It would be tempting to call Fred again…the Ed Sheeran of house music, given his pared-back brilliance. But Sheeran does at least strike a personal chord with his legions of fans. real life 3, for all its looting of Fred’s browser history, seems too imprecise to make the kind of impression that “Marea” once did. The sentiments expressed in songs like “Bleu (Better With Time)”, “Berwyn (All That I Got Is You)” and “Clara (The Night Is Dark)” are more of a Hallmark card than dark night of the soul. .