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Fridge - The Sun

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Artist: Fridge

Album: The Sun

Label: Temporary Residence

Review date: Jun. 27, 2007

When British post-rock trio Fridge first bowed in 1997, they did so on the heels of Tortoise’s Millions Now Living Will Never Die. Pulling from the same inspirational well as that Chicago group’s now-seminal sophomore album, Fridge unfolded as that band’s British analogue, gradually developing their own unique spin on driving Kraut, rigid electronic rhythms and ecstatic free jazz. By 2001’s Happiness, Fridge had all but repaid their debt to post-rock’s founding fathers, cresting with a deft album that managed to translate their influences into a creative amalgam of instrumental collages.

In the time since Happiness, guitarist Kieren Hebden has stayed busy with his oft-engaging Four Tet project, while Adem Ilhan has explored more trad indie rock under the guise of Adem, and drummer Sam Jeffers pursued his visual instincts through graphic design. Reconvened after a six-year hiatus, The Sun presents a new Fridge record that carries along with it certain expectations. All throughout the band’s formative run, the joy of each successive album was in the translation of the three-pieces’ newest discoveries into more tightly focused tracks, blending and balancing each new element into a constantly growing whole that never once sounded of pastiche. Thus, the hope here is that the same restless spirit will prevail, making The Sun somehow more than just the sum of its parts.

More streamlined than its immediate predecessor, Fridge’s latest album only occasionally shows flashes of the vibrancy that carried this trio from teen experiments to confidently assured songs. Tracks like “Clocks,” with its sampled timepieces, build slowly into effervescent cascades of sublime harmony and sun-soaked bliss, highlighting a group at their most accessible and effortlessly composed. Similarly, “Oram” displays a sense of ragged, transcendent glory, all chiming guitars and subtle vibes girded with rhythms that collapse in and around themselves. And “Lost Time” successfully incorporates a rare vocal performance, giving free reign to wordless chants that waft across tense instrumental passages.

Ultimately, though, there’s little to grasp onto with The Sun, as the record more often than not locks into a cautious mode of jamming on simple figures with little idea as to where to actually take them. And while at times the graceful ambience can be more than welcome, more often than not it makes for forgettable tracks. Over the course of an excellent back catalogue, we’ve come to expect more from Fridge than simple loose sessions, which makes The Sun a relative disappointment.

By Michael Crumsho

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