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★★★✩✩

Free Wired

Far East Movement

Released October 12, 2010

Interscope Records

The Far East Movement recently released the album Free Wired in October. To be honest, I wasn’t sure I could actually critique the album, since it’s quite a feat to judge the artistic value of electronic hip hop, and I didn’t expect to have much to say in the area of lyrics, either. I know the album wasn’t intended to focus on lyrics but was based mainly on dance music, so I judged Free Wired based partly on what it was intended to do.

As a whole, the album didn’t really get my attention. I wouldn’t mind listening to the album again, but I can say that with most of the albums I’ve listened to. A lot of the songs in the album sound pretty similar, though electronic-based albums are more likely to sound this way. Lyrics-wise, the songs showed little variation.

The first track, “Girls on the Dance Floor,” had an introductory feel and opened the album pretty well. I actually liked it better than the well-known “Like a G6,” which followed the first track and was constructed similarly. That was pretty effective though, because it allowed the early songs to flow and set a tone for the rest of the album.

By the far the best song was “Rocketeer.” The vocals are decent and slightly more creative than the rest of the album’s songs, and the composition of the song was simple and effective. I especially liked the piano section of the song, which allowed a nice fade to the music over time and contributed to the theme of the song. This was the only song on the track I found myself listening to over and over again. It distinguished itself with its approach and had a unique sound when compared to the others on the album.

Aside from “Rocketeer,” “So What” was another one of the better tracks, and featured innovative beats despite the fact that the feeling in the song stayed pretty constant throughout. The song “2gether” which contains sections taken from “Love Shack” by the B-52s, had the feel of a conclusion, similar to how Girls on the Dance Floor had a pretty obvious introductory feel.

2gether was a somewhat flat ending, but it didn’t sound particularly bad per se, considering that tracks 7-9 (“Don’t Look Know,” “Fighting for Air,” and “White Flag”) were permutations of one another. The later songs in the album were kind of disappointing considering the decent beginning, and let the album fall somewhat flat towards the end.

When an album is outstanding or at least great, I would want to lie down and listen to the album in its entirety while not doing anything else. Unfortunately, Free Wired doesn’t have this effect. Most of the album is rather homogenous — and as I said before, it’s probably due to the fact that it’s electronic hip hop. Electronic hip hop can generally be enjoyed on a song-by-song basis, but not as a whole album. The first couple songs were catchy, but not anything particularly special. Even for Rocketeer, which was the best song in my opinion, the way they approached the vocals wasn’t very successful.

Moreover, I would describe most of the songs’ lyrics as throw-away lyrics. Most of the songs consist of generic lyrics that are more or less what is found in other mainstream songs. Considering that FM has openly stated in interviews that one of their main goals is to score high on charts and that they base their music off of recent trends and what they hear at parties, that isn’t surprising.

The lyrics are nevertheless pretty homogenous throughout, and that’s a problem from an artistic point-of-view. For me, an album can only be good if the lyrics are effective. I’m not asking for FM to be on the extremely philosophical or profound, but there should still be more creativity. Considering that the article is part of the Arts section, lyrical content should be especially important in judging music.

On the other hand, the album does succeed in producing a good number of effective dance numbers. Apart from “Like a G6,” which has already been overplayed, “Girls on the Dance Floor,” “So What,” and “2gether” also fit in well in dance settings. The constant feeling in the beats serves well if you want to use the songs as workout music, though that doesn’t have much to do with the album as art.

I know this review was harsh, but I’m generally pretty critical of music. Great music, in my opinion, has to have innovation, good lyrics, good composition, and emotional impact. Despite my review, this album as a whole was OK. There isn’t a lot of music I absolutely disliked, but there also wasn’t a lot I really found myself drawn to. But because Far East Movement writes much of their lyrics and has a fairly important impact in their musical style, I wouldn’t call them a manufactured group. Therefore, it is possible to judge Free Wired as a work of art.